Gun control package clears committee

TRENTON – Senate lawmakers released more than a half dozen gun bills Thursday as the second day of a two-part committee hearing on the reform proposal came to a close.

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee released seven bills following hours of a toned-down debate on the proposals that drew hundreds to the Statehouse earlier in the week. The bills are part of the Senate’s response to the call for gun control.

Most of the bills cleared with unanimous support.

Prior to voting on the package, one of the leading advocates for gun reform in the Senate defended against arguments from opponents to the proposal that argued lawmakers were  wrongly going after guns instead of focusing their efforts on the people who use them illegally.

“I would suggest when the NRA lobbied in Washington to cut $6.6 million from the budget of the Centers for Disease Control [for studying gun violence] … was a line in the sand for some of the rest of us,” said Sen. Lorretta Weinberg, (D-37).

“This is the beginning of the process,” she said, explaining it’s a jumping off point and promised to work to improve language on existing bills and push for future proposals not listed on today’s agenda.

“I’m not walking away from it,” she said.

Among the hearing’s most controversial bill’s of the day was S2178, which would ban certain .50-caliber firearms. Senate President Steve Sweeney indicated the bill will be reworded so that only the .50-caliber Barrett would be banned under the legislation.

The bill cleared the committee along party lines with Republican Chris Bateman, (R-16) voting to oppose the bill.

A similar bill has already made its way through the Assembly and Gov. Chris Christie has indicated that the same ban would be part of his proposal to crack down on gun violence.

The Democratic lawmakers voting during committee were Sens. Donald Norcross, Nicholas Sacco and Linda Greenstein.

The other bills released from committee following little discussion were:

S2552, codifies regulation exempting firearms records from state’s open public records law and abolishes common law right access to these records.

The bill cleared the committee with unanimous support.

S2715, requires the Department of Education to prepare and distribute informational pamphlets on how parents can limit a child’s exposure to media violence.

The bill cleared the committee with unanimous support.

S2718, requires collection and reporting of certain firearms information to inter-jurisdictional databases and requires information relating to crime of firearms trafficking to be included in the annual Uniform Crime Report.

The bill cleared the committee along party lines with Bateman abstaining.

S2719, enhances penalties for certain firearms offenses.

The bill cleared the committee with unanimous support.

S2720, clarifies that information concerning the total number of firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun issued in a municipality are public records.

The bill cleared the committee with unanimous support.

S2721, clarifies definition of reasonably necessary deviation when legally transporting a firearm or weapon in a motor vehicle.

The bill cleared the committee with unanimous support. Gun control package clears committee