Christie Signs Some Gun Control Laws, Leaves Others On His Desk

Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie

TRENTON – Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed 10 bills into law that aim to reduce gun violence. However, the most controversial bills passed by the Legislature in June still await the governor’s action.

One measure still awaiting action would ban the .50 caliber rifle, which is the most powerful gun currently available to civilians (A3659). Though Christie had called for a ban on the gun in his own plan to combat violence earlier this year, he has not indicated whether he will sign this bill into law.

Another bill awaiting action would reform how New Jersey issues firearm identification cards and purchase permits, and require purchasers to show proof of safety training, among other things. (S2723)

Gun rights supporters opposed two bills that the governor signed: one prevents people on the federal terrorist watch list from legally buying guns (A3687), and another requires certain mental health information to be submitted to a federal database (A3717).

In signing the bill to prevent people on the terrorist watchlist from legally buying guns, Christie said, “To the extent that this bill will keep guns out of the hands of known terrorists, or those who have taken active steps to support terrorist activities, my signature on this bill represents my commitment to keeping the citizens of New Jersey safe. Our diligence against terrorism must never fade.”

“Terrorists are on the Watchlist because their intentions to harm people and property are well known,” said Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union), a sponsor of the bill. “It’s reasonable protection that terrorists are denied access to NJ gun permits and licenses. It’s simple common sense.”

Christie also signed a bill to upgrade the crime of unlawful possession of firearm to a first degree crime and increase the mandatory minimum sentence by six months (S2804). Another new law increases the penalties for firearms trafficking and allows police to seize cars used to smuggle guns into New Jersey (S2719). Cars could also be impounded if an occupant illegally possesses a weapon (S2468) and unlawfully selling or giving a gun to an underage person would have a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years (S1279) under two other new laws.

Other bills signed by Christie include measures to give people 180 days to turn in certain illegal guns (S3797), exempt firearm owner information from the state’s Open Public Records Act (A3788), clarify that the total number of gun permits in a town are a public record (S2720), and create a study commission on violence (S2430).

“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 can  help put a dent on gun crime,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex).

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