Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (both D-Bergen) to boost firearm safety by requiring gun owners to complete a safety training class before purchasing a firearm was approved 47-26 by the full Assembly on Thursday.
The legislation is part of a comprehensive Assembly Democratic anti-gun violence initiative, which is comprised of more than two dozen bills.
“This bill will help promote competency and safety in gun ownership,” said Johnson. “Learning how to properly handle and store weapons can go a long way in helping to avoid unnecessary tragedies.”
The bill (A-3510) would require the successful completion of a firearms safety class or course for all applicants for firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun. Although introduced just prior to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the sponsors noted that the tragedy further underscores the need for training in the safe and proper handling and storage of guns.
“This is one of many components that are needed in order to tackle the gun violence epidemic and keep firearms out of the wrong hands,” said Vainieri Huttle. “This measure will help create safer, more responsible gun owners.”
Under the provisions of the bill, applicants for firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun would be required to present evidence that they have successfully completed a firearms safety class or course approved by the Superintendent of State Police as a condition for being issued their card or permit.
The class or course may be offered by the National Rifle Association, a State or local law enforcement agency, junior college, college, university firearms training school, or any other entity approved by the superintendent. The superintendent is to determine the form of the evidence and the manner in which it is to be presented by the applicant.
Applicants who have received firearms training through law enforcement or military service may substitute that experience for the required class or course training.
At least seven other states require a firearm safety training course prior to issuance of a gun license or permit according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, including: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.