‘Weapons-free zones’ bill introduced

TRENTON – A bill has been introduced to allow towns to adopt “weapons free’’ zones around schools, day care centers and other facilities.

The bill, S3189, is sponsored by Sen. Ron Rice, (D-28), Newark, who said Wednesday afternoon that the idea for the legislation originated with Assemblyman Gilbert Wilson, (D-5), Camden. Rice said he agreed to introduce the Senate version.

Wilson could not be reached immediately for comment, but Rice, a former police officer, said, “I do understand the need to remove guns from cities, period. At least it sends the right message.’’

The bill would declare “weapons free’’ the areas within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, public housing, and public buildings such as libraries.

The penalty for illegal possession of a firearm would be a fine of up to $1,000, 90 days in prison, or both.

The bill stipulates that those “statutorily’’ authorized to possess a weapon would not be subject to the restrictions.

The Senate version has been referred to the Law and Public Safety Committee.

An earlier Assembly version, A2729, sponsored by many, including Wilson, was introduced back in May 2010, but never advanced through the committee stage.