Numerous gun laws in pipeline in wake of shootings

TRENTON – The recent spate of gun violence – the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and a shooting last week at a California High School – has led to a variety of proposed laws.

Among them:

Assemblyman Joe Cryan, (D-20), Union, has introduced bills calling for more stringent measures, such as mental health screening for gun purchasers and limiting the number of bullets that can be contained in a magazine.

Also last past week, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, (D-32), West New York, introduced legislation requiring individuals applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or a handgun purchase permit to submit the results of a psychological evaluation before buying the firearm.

Her bill would mandate individuals to submit the results of a psychological evaluation administered by an appropriate health care professional licensed in the state as part of the application.

When the 113th Congress convenes, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) plans to reintroduce bills that would also limit the number of rounds a magazine can carry and closing the so-called gun show loophole that allows easier access to buying guns without background checks.

High-capacity magazines have been selling since 2004, when the assault weapons ban expired. The author of that ban, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, is among many Democrats calling for the ban to be reinstated.

State Sen. Dick Codey, (D-28), West Orange, has introduced legislation requiring the state to disinvest from any companies that manufacture or sell assault-style weapons, such as the AR-15 rifle that was used in the Connecticut school shooting

“No civilian should own a firearm with the ability to spray high-velocity bullets because, in reality, there is no reasonable purpose to have this kind of weapon,” Codey said in a statement.

“While the gun control problem calls for changes in our laws at the federal level, the state cannot be complicit by investing in companies that manufacture or sell military-style weapons to the general public. Our first step should be to disinvest from any companies that we may have in our portfolio that produce or sell these guns but also to ban investments going forward. Sometimes the economic boycotting of companies can have a real impact on these kinds of problems.”

While many are calling for stricter gun-control, there is just as vocal a group that says that may not be the answer. In essence, they’re saying more guns is the answer.

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, (R-26), Morris Township, has authored a bill calling for just that; for citizens to arm themselves. But his bill has yet to get a hearing, let alone make it out of a committee.

On the national front, the National Rifle Association has said its membership has actually increased in the weeks following the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Its president has said all schools should have armed guards and be placed strategically.

At least one school district, Marlboro in Monmouth County, has gone in that direction.  

But Gov. Chris Christie said he doesn’t believe it’s a good idea for schools to start looking like “armed camps.”

The debate is sure to continue, as Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to release this week various gun legislation recommendations as part of a task force he assembled.

There are other legislative proposals that already have been introduced or will be in coming weeks, but New Jersey’s gun laws seem to be on the more stringent side. The Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV), a San Francisco-based gun control advocacy group, ranks New Jersey as the second strictest gun control law state, right behind California. It also ranks in the top 10 states of having the lowest gun ownership rate; having the fewest guns exported and lowest gun death rates.

 

"The governor still has to come to bat."
—Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, on Atlantic City.