On Monday, February 24 the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing to debate a pair of gun control bills. Headlining the afternoon meeting is a bill which has been introduced during previous legislative sessions and deals with mandatory storage laws.
S.120 by Sen. James Holzapfel increases penalties on those who fail to secure firearms from minors resulting in death. New Jersey already prosecutes negligent storage, however, S.120 increases the penalty in these cases. This year’s iteration of the bill at least takes into consideration an objection raised by NRA and ANJRPC in previous hearings, and provides an exception for minors who gain access for self-defense purposes. Despite this modest improvement, this bill unfortunately will not have any sort of significant impact on firearms safety. It does nothing more than provide a punitive tool for prosecutors after a tragedy has already occurred. Our position has long been that firearms storage and safety is a matter of personal responsibility within one’s home.
Another bill, S.746 by Sen. Vin Gopal, would prohibit those convicted of “animal cruelty” from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Clearly, animal abuse is a serious issue and offenders should be prosecuted. However, as is the case with most of New Jersey’s gun control laws, they are loaded with pitfalls that extend to less serious offenses. New Jersey already has a state firearm disqualifier for serious animal abuse convictions. S.746, however, would now include offenses as low as “disorderly persons” offenses, resulting in a lifetime suspension of one’s constitutional rights.
For those wishing to express concerns, please contact the committee members below:
Members of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee:
Linda Greenstein (Chair) (D14)
Joe Cryan (Vice Chari) (D20)
Anthony M. Bucco (R25)
Nia H. Gill (D34)
Declan O’Scanlon (D13)