Firearms bills up for Senate votes Thursday

TRENTON – A package of about 10 gun-control bills – including one that precipitated a partisan skirmish – will be up for votes before the Senate Thursday.

The legislation – which includes Senate President Steve Sweeney’s comprehensive overhaul of gun permits – also would address other issues: adding some weapons offenses to the bail-restrictions list; increasing penalties for illegal transfers of firearms; prohibiting state investments in some firearms manufacturers; and submitting mental health records to the national criminal database.

Sweeney’s bill – S2723 – was pulled from an earlier Senate session when Republicans would not provide the votes needed for procedural moves to allow a vote to be held that day.

Sweeney then pulled bills with GOP sponsorship from committee agendas in retaliation, although he relented on one regarding closure of a landfill in Morris County when its Republican backers appealed to him.

The bill Sweeney sponsored would enact a comprehensive make-over of firearms possession permits. Instead of having to renew permits every 90 days, they would last for four years.

Data would be embedded in driver’s licenses, and Sweeney said that because the technology exists to conduct instantaneous background checks, permits could be revoked immediately if a violation is discovered.

Opponents, such as the N.J. Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, raised privacy and constitutionality issues.

Here is a list of bills scheduled for votes Thursday:

S1133: This bill would add certain weapons offenses to the list of crimes with bail restrictions under current law. The bill adds the crimes of unlawful possession of a weapon, and has a conviction already for crimes of the first- through third-degree.

The bill excludes some weapons: unloaded rifle or shotgun or a BB gun, air gun, or spring gun.

S1279: Upgrades penalty for unlawfully transferring a firearm to an underage person.

The penalties would rise from a $15,000 fine and/or three to five years in jail to a $150,000 fine and/or a mandatory minimum of five years in jail.

S2178: Revises definition of destructive device to include weapons of 50 caliber or greater.

S2467: Prohibits state-administered pension fund investment in manufacturers of firearms that are prohibited in New Jersey for civilian use.

S2485: Disqualifies person named on federal Terrorist Watchlist from obtaining firearms identification card or permit to purchase handgun. 

S2492: Requires submission of mental health records to National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

S2552: Codifies regulation exempting firearms records from state’s open public records law.

S2723: Revises statutes concerning firearms purchaser identification cards and handgun purchase permits; makes handgun purchase permit valid for four years.

Firearms purchaser ID information would be embedded in a driver’s license toward the goal of providing for instant background checks and immediate revocation of firearms possession rights if a violation is discovered.

The bill, in part, is designed to eliminate the time-consuming process by which an applicant has to wait sometimes more than a year, rather than 30 days, to obtain a permit.

S2801: This bill expands the five-year statute of limitations for prosecuting firearms theft to 10 years. The original bill would have eliminated the statute of limitations altogether.

S2804: Upgrades certain unlawful possession of firearms to first- degree crime; revises certain penalties under the “Graves Act,” which eliminated parole eligibility under certain circumstances.




Firearms bills up for Senate votes Thursday