(TRENTON) – The Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Charles Mainor, Gordon Johnson, Benjie Wimberly and Raj Mukherji to make the use of a defaced or stolen firearm to injure a police officer a crime, and toughen the penalties for defacing a firearm.
The bill, designated Marc Anthony’s Law, is named after Jersey City Police Detective Marc Anthony DiNardo who died from injuries sustained during a shootout with suspected robbers in 2009.
“Police officers like Dt. DiNardo put their lives on the line every day to protect others,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Police work is inherently risky. This bill hopes to reduce that risk and prevent officers from becoming targets by criminalizing the use of these firearms to harm police officers, and enhancing the penalties for defacing or possessing a defaced firearm.”
“Law enforcement officers ensure public safety by essentially putting their own at risk,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Yes, it is part of the job, but it is a job that not everyone can or is willing to do. We should extend every possible protection to our law enforcement officers who face danger on a routine basis. Not just for the officers, but the families they leave behind when tragedy strikes.”
The bill (A-823) would make it a first degree crime to use a defaced or stolen firearm to cause serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, and a second degree crime to use a defaced or stolen firearm to cause bodily injury to a law enforcement officer.
The bill also increases the penalties for defacing a firearm and for acquiring or possessing a defaced firearm. Under the bill, the penalty for defacing a firearm is upgraded from a third degree crime to a second degree crime, which is punishable for a term of imprisonment between five and 10 years; a fine of up to $150,000; or both. The penalty for acquiring or possessing a defaced firearm is upgraded from a crime of the fourth degree to a crime of the third degree, which is punishable for a term of imprisonment between three and five years; a fine of up to $15,000; or both.
“The sole purpose of stolen or defaced firearms is for use by criminals in illegal activity. These firearms pose a serious threat to our law enforcement officers who must face against this criminal element on a daily basis,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Toughening the penalties for using these types of weapons can help keep our police officers and our communities safer.”
“Police work is not for the faint of heart. We owe this common sense legislation to our officers and their families,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill does nothing to infringe the rights of law abiding gun owners. By upgrading these penalties, this bill sends a clear message to criminals – who are the only people with any use for a defaced or stolen firearm – that they should be ready to do hard time if they use such a firearm to put our law enforcement officers in harm’s way.”
The bill was approved 79-0 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.