Assembly Passes Ban On .50-Caliber Rifles

TRENTON – The Assembly passed a bill banning the sale of .50-caliber rifles, part of a Democratic gun violence prevention effort, by a 41-33-3 vote on Monday, giving it final Legislative approval.

“In a post-9/11 society, there is simply no reason for .50-caliber weapons to be available for civilian use,” said Assemblyman Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex). “With the continued rise in gang violence across the state and the fact that New Jersey possesses numerous chemical plants and rail yards vulnerable to attack by .50-caliber weapons, we have a serious responsibility to stop these inherently deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands.”

The bill revises the definition of “destructive device” so that it includes weapons of 50 caliber or greater. Under the bill, it would be unlawful to possess a firearm having a caliber of 50 or greater.

Under the revised definition, a .50-caliber weapon includes any weapon capable of firing a center-fire cartridge of a caliber of 50 or greater, including a 12.7 mm equivalent of .50-caliber or greater or any other metric equivalent.

The definition also includes a copy or duplicate of any such weapon regardless of caliber that is capable of firing a projectile that attains a muzzle energy of 12,000 foot-pounds or greater in any combination of bullet, propellant, case or primer.

The prohibition on .50-caliber weapons would not apply to a smooth bore shotgun or rifle barrel shotgun or any shotgun ammunition generally recognized as suitable for sporting purposes in this state.

Antique firearms, antique handguns, muzzleloader rifles and certain black powder muzzleloaders are not included in the revised definition of a .50-caliber weapon.

The bill now goes to the governor.

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