TRENTON – The Assembly passed 22 gun control bills yesterday, in votes that went mostly along party lines. Supporters of the legislation say that it will help reduce gun violence, an issue that gained national attention after December’s massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The bills, which have not yet been voted on by the state Senate, would limit the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, ban ammunition capable of penetrating body armor, disqualify persons on the federal Terrorist Watchlist from obtaining gun permits, permit municipalities to establish weapons-free zones around schools, and require mental health clearances for gun permits.
“These measures are a blend of temperance and temerity – the temperance necessary to address this issue pragmatically without trampling on Second Amendment rights, and the temerity to tackle this issue once and for all,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “For those who argue that our efforts are an emotional response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I don’t entirely disagree. To not be driven by emotion to address the incomprehensible slaying of 20 innocent children would be baffling. This is not, however, a knee-jerk response. The time to get serious about protecting our communities from gun violence is long overdue. The proposals we have approved are common sense.”
Republicans sought to hold the bills until the Legislature received direction from an anti-violence task force commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie, but Democrats were able to thwart the delaying tactic.
A Republican-sponsored bill to prevent public access to the names and addresses of residents with gun permits, inspired by outrage over a New York newspaper’s publication of a map of permit holders, won unanimous approval. The bill to prevent people on the Terrorist Watchlist from gaining gun permits was approved 63-3, with 10 abstentions.
Most of the other bills passed by votes similar to the chamber’s political split: 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans.
Christie has not indicated if he will sign the bills if they reach his desk.