TRENTON – A bill granting the Attorney General broad powers to enforce a ban on armor-piercing bullets was pulled from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee agenda following objections raised by pro-arms advocates.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, (D-29), Newark, is a carryover from the previous session that has been addressed at the federal level since its introduction.
“My brothers are Newark police officers,” she said. “Every day that they go out I have to worry about them coming back.”
The federal ban on these bullets would be supplemented by the state bill, Spencer said, which grants ongoing power to the Attorney General to add new ammo to the banned list.
Several members of the panel and stakeholders who testified said the sweeping power the bill would grant is too broad.
Assemblyman Nelson Albano, (D-1), Vineland, said recreational gun enthusiasts could be arrested as a result of the new law, too. He asked for an exemption in the bill for legal gun owners who could be charged with a “fourth degree crime for going to the target range.”
Spencer said she would sit down to discuss amendments regarding the role of the A.G.’s Office, a recreational exemption, and maintaining the banned ammo list if the bill is passed.
NRA Board Member Scott Bach, also the president of the Association of N.J. Rifle & Pistol Clubs, said the bill allows for “ammunition bans by fiat” of an unelected official. The ban includes “non-metallic ammunition,” which he said could include hunting ammo “right down to toy Airsoft pellets.”
“He can ban it with the stroke of a pen,” he said of A.G. Jeff Chiesa. Bach said the imprisonment and sentence-commute last year of Brian Aitken was a “black eye” against overreaching firearm legislation in the state.
New chairman, Assemblyman Charles Mainor, (D-31), Jersey City, said, “We’re going to hold that bill until amendments are made.”