Ghost guns are privately made firearms that are untraceable and appeal to those looking to subvert background checks. Aiming to build on existing punishments for manufacturing these firearms, legislation to increase penalties was approved by the full Assembly Wednesday, 64-14.
The bill (S-2864/A-4367), sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Louis Greenwald, would make it a second-degree crime to purchase firearm parts for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing firearms without a serial number and to manufacture covert or undetectable firearms and 3-D printed firearms.
“Ghost guns are dangerous, unregulated weapons that undermine our efforts to keep New Jersey communities safe. These untraceable firearms can inflict the same amount of damage as a traditional gun and, because you don’t need a background check to purchase individual parts or mail-in order kits, they skirt federal and state law,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “Increasing the penalties for manufacturing these firearms will ensure our courts can prosecute and punish those who build firearms to avoid proper licensure.”
Under current law, manufacturing these firearms is a lesser, third-degree crime. Upgrading offenses associated with manufacturing ghost guns to second-degree crimes—punishable by five to ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000, or both—will serve as a greater deterrent and ensure those convicted are brought to justice.
“New Jersey prides itself on having some of the strongest gun safety laws in the nation. As such, we must punish those who manufacture untraceable and undetectable firearms that pose a threat to communities throughout our state,” said Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “By making these offenses crimes of the second degree, we increase the consequences for individuals looking to use new technologies or at-home kits to manufacture guns outside our state laws and regulations.”
Having passed the full Senate 32-6, the bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.