TRENTON – The Assembly passed legislation Thursday that would enhance penalties in New Jersey for gun traffickers and those who enable them by a 73-3 vote. The bill is part of the ongoing Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention initiative.
“Gun violence has become an epidemic in many of our communities. There is no one solution to gun violence, but these and other gun violence prevention measures we are proposing can collectively help put a dent on gun crime,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex). “Whether it means forfeiting your car or your freedom, this bill ensures that if you smuggle guns into our state, you will pay the price.”
The bill (A-3853/3854) requires that any motor vehicle used by a person to transport, ship, or bring any firearm into the state for the purpose of unlawfully selling, transferring, or giving that firearm to another is subject to seizure and forfeiture. Innocent owners and the holders of valid liens are exempted from seizures and forfeitures under the bill. The bill also clarifies that transporting, shipping, or otherwise bringing firearms into the state for temporary transfers to individuals for firearms training purposes and shooting competitions are lawful activities, and that the vehicles used to transport and ship a firearm for these purposes are not subject to seizure and forfeiture.
In addition, the bill enhances the penalties for licensed retail firearms dealers who knowingly provide firearms to persons who transfer those firearms to individuals who are disqualified from owning a firearm. Under the bill, a dealer who violates these provisions is guilty of a crime of the second degree. A crime of the second degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Under the bill, these dealers are subject to a mandatory 18-month minimum term of imprisonment. If the firearm has been used in the commission of a crime, the dealer is subject to a three-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. A dealer convicted of this crime also is permanently disqualified from obtaining another retail firearms dealer license.
The bill further provides that a dealer who knowingly sells or transfers an inordinate number of firearms that later are discovered to have been recovered as abandoned or discarded firearms, or as firearms seized because they were unlawfully possessed, or as firearms used for an unlawful purpose, or as firearms recovered from the scene of a crime, or as firearms reasonably believed to have been used or associated with the commission of a crime is – after a hearing – subject to a permanent license revocation.
Lastly, the bill makes the crime of firearms trafficking subject to the No Early Release Act, which provides that a violator must serve 85 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Firearms trafficking is a crime of the second degree. Under the bill, a violator would have to serve 85 percent of the five to 10 year term of imprisonment imposed for second degree crimes.
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