Fresh after re-election, Murphy pushes more gun restrictions in NJ
In the wake of the shooting spree at a Michigan high school on Tuesday that left four students dead and seven wounded, Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday called on legislators to take action in the coming weeks to pass a comprehensive gun safety package that was originally proposed in the spring.
During a visit to Metuchen, Murphy said the common sense items on his “to-do” list in the next six weeks include requiring anyone applying for a firearm purchaser card to first complete a certified safety course.
“You can’t get a darn driver’s license without proving you know how to drive a car, why do we ask less when it comes to a gun? And like your driver’s license, your firearm purchaser card should also expire after four years and require the holder to actively renew it,” he said.
Another measure would close a loophole for importing out-of-state firearms, and require gun owners who move to New Jersey to obtain a firearm purchaser ID card, and register their weapon within 30 days of residing in the state.
The governor said he’s also pushing for “simply making it a commonsense law that all guns not in use be stored securely in a lockbox or gun safe.”
He said overwhelmingly responsible gun owners in New Jersey keep their firearms safely secured but some do not.
Another proposed measure would require all handguns sold in New Jersey have microstamping technology on ammunition. He said this would create “a veritable license plate that can trace a specific round back to a specific gun.”
'You can’t get a darn driver’s license without proving you know how to drive a car, why do we ask less when it comes to a gun?'
Another piece of legislation would require electronic recordkeeping of all ammunition sold in New Jersey.
"Law enforcement should not have to cull through binders of handwritten pages when investigating a shooting," Murphy said.
The governor is also calling for amending the existing public nuisance cause of action law to be able to hold gun manufacturers and distributors responsible for the damage caused by firearms.
He said 80% of the guns used to commit crimes in New Jersey come from out of state, and while the U.S. Constitution won’t allow New Jersey to hold those states accountable for their lax gun laws, it can allow state officials to hold manufacturers accountable for allowing guns to come illegally into the Garden State.
Additionally, the governor supports proposed legislation that would ban .50 caliber firearms, and he is calling for school shooting drills to be regulated so they follow trauma-informed and age-appropriate standards, to make them less nerve-racking for students.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, described the package of bills being proposed as “just common sense.”
He noted some individuals will always try to get guns illegally, but “that doesn’t mean we don’t make rules to track the things we can track, to fight the fights that we can fight, and to try to continue to make New Jersey safer and better.”
Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck said the legislation “will further our work to help communities statewide support victims of crime, while reducing the deadly cycle of gun-related violence."
The governor said New Jersey’s toughest in the nation gun laws work because they keep firearms out of the wrong hands.
'This isn’t about public safety. It’s about his ultimate goal of taking guns away from the very residents who follow our laws.'
Gun proposals called 'political ploy'
In response to Murphy’s call to enact tougher gun laws, state Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, issued a news release that said “the governor’s rush to push through his anti-gun agenda in the lame-duck session is a political ploy to curry favor with his progressive base. It’s a direct attack on responsible, registered firearms owners, sportsmen, and their constitutional rights.”
In the same release, state Sen. Mike Testa, R-Cumberland, said “clearly, the timing is intended to further tighten gun restrictions on law-abiding residents as quickly as possible, giving opponents little to no time to be heard. There are dozens of bills awaiting action in both houses of the Legislature that would do more to fight crime and make New Jersey communities safer for everyone. This isn’t about public safety. It’s about his ultimate goal of taking guns away from the very residents who follow our laws.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com