TRENTON, N.J. – During a legislative debate on Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest gun control package, Republicans in the Assembly Judiciary Committee disputed the Democrats’ claim that the bills would lessen crime in the Garden State. Assemblyman Robert Auth and Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn said the package targets law-abiding gun owners exercising their Second Amendment constitutional rights and not the violent criminals.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Murphy’s administration told us it wasn’t safe to go to work, school or the parks while thousands of prisoners were released early and seniors in nursing homes were literally locked in. Now they want us to believe that passing this legislation will somehow make us safer. This latest push is just big government oppressing law-abiding citizens, once again,” Auth (R-Bergen) said.
The nine bills considered in the Assembly committee raise the age a person is eligible to purchase a long gun to 21, requires registration of firearms acquired out-of-state, regulates handgun ammunition sales, makes it easier for New Jersey to sue the gun industry, mandates certain retailers sell microstamping-enabled firearms, prohibits body armor possession in certain cases, and more.
“The citizens in this state are concerned about the dangers from gun violence in our schools and today, none of the bills address those concerns. The legislation unfortunately won’t have the slightest impact on school safety or combating rising crime in our inner cities. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to develop a real plan to protect our kids which will require funding to allow schools to enhance security and mental health capabilities,” said Flynn (R-Monmouth). “Until we have a serious conversation about removing illegal guns from our streets, bolstering school security and addressing the mental health epidemic – the Murphy administration and Democrats are disregarding their obligations to keep New Jersey families and kids safe.”
Flynn moved to amend a bill (A4369) that prohibits the possession of body armor by certain persons to exempt the use of bulletproof backpacks on school property, including school buses. Democrats tabled the motion and shifted the responsibility to include the amendment to the next committee that considers the bill.
Auth proposed an amendment to the bill (A1302) regulating handgun ammunition to increase penalties for individuals who possess ammunition for an unlawful purpose. It would be a crime of the second degree, which comes with five to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. The amendment was tabled along party lines and the Democrats, again, said another committee could take up Auth’s change.
According to the Giffords Law Center, only California has tougher gun laws than New Jersey. The Golden State also has had the most mass shootings, defined as four or more people killed, since 1982. The Garden State has the third lowest firearm death rate in the nation per the CDC, despite the number of annual firearm deaths increasing in 2020. In 2019, there were 368 gun deaths and in 2022, there were 443.
“If Democrats were truly concerned about safety, they would have passed the bill to standardize school emergency response training for police that was proposed by Republicans two days after Uvalde. Their narrative that the government restricting our freedom somehow makes everyone safer is a lie. Criminals ignore gun laws. New Jersey needs to look at going after the bad guys, not the responsible gun owners,” said Auth and Flynn.