TRENTON – Highly-powerful .50 caliber weapons used by the armed forces and special police units would be banned for civilian use according to legislation that gained the approval of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday as the panel followed through on the legislative plan by Senate Democrats to reduce the threat of gun violence in New Jersey.
Sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak and Senator Barbara Buono, the bill, S-2178, would prohibit the future sale and possession of .50 caliber rifles capable of firing 12,000 “foot-pounds” or more of power.
“These are weapons of war that may serve the needs of our armed forces and police SWAT teams but they make no sense for hunters, sportsmen or for personal protection,” said Senator Lesniak. “They are so powerful they can take down low-flying aircraft, penetrate armored vehicles and disable fast-moving boats. They belong on the battlefield or in special police actions, not in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and not for civilian use in our communities.”
Current owners with permits would be allowed to keep their guns if they are registered within one year or rendered inoperable.
“These guns are designed and manufactured to be one of the most destructive weapons legally available in the country, which is why they should be strictly limited to highly-trained professionals for use in war-like circumstances,” said Senator Buono. “If these guns were turned on innocent and unsuspecting people, the death and destruction would be catastrophic.”
The definition of the banned .50 caliber guns does not include the shotguns commonly used for hunting.
Already approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, the bill gained the support of the budget panel with a vote of 7 – 6 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration