17 Students Killed in Florida School Shooting
Once again, headlines in America are proclaiming the heartbreaking news that students have been killed in another mass shooting. This time, the tragedy occurred in Parkland, Florida and 17 high school students have been pronounced dead. According to law enforcement officials, the gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, killing 17 students and wounding 14 others. The alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is a former student at the school who was recently expelled for disciplinary reasons. Reports indicate that Cruz was armed with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and that he had multiple high-capacity magazines. As a result of the massacre, Cruz now faces 17 counts of premediated murder.
As with any discussions following a gun-related tragedy, gun control supporters are urging lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws to prevent future tragedies. But in New Jersey, there many strict gun laws already on the books that do not exist in other states. Accordingly, NJ has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the United States. First and foremost, New Jersey is a “may issue” gun permit state. The chief police officer of a city or county of an applicant, or the New Jersey State Police superintendent, has the discretion in determining whether to issue a gun permit to an applicant. Moreover, there are many banned purchasers of firearms: those who have been convicted of crimes such as aggravated assault, arson, burglary, homicide, and many other crimes; any person who is subject to a domestic violence restraining order; and people who have previously been committed for a mental disorder to any hospital, mental institution, or sanitarium. Additionally, New Jersey has banned more than 50 specified assault firearms, as well as semi-automatic shotguns with a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a pistol grip, or a folding stock.
In addition to the gun purchasing regulations and weapons bans in New Jersey, the criminal offenses related to firearms are also very strict. In fact, the unlawful possession of a handgun or the possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose are second degree crimes in New Jersey. Generally, second degree crimes in New Jersey carry a prison sentence of 5-10 years and a fine of up to $150,000. Additionally, firearms crimes are controlled by the Graves Act, which imposes mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) states that a person who has been convicted of certain firearms crimes and other crimes while in the possession of a firearm “shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term. The minimum term shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater, or 18 months in the case of a fourth degree crime, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole.”
The bottom line is that firearms crimes in New Jersey are taken extremely seriously by the criminal justice system. If you are charged with a gun-related offense, there is a lot on the line. The New Jersey weapons defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm have successfully handled gun crime cases throughout New Jersey. If you have been charged with a weapons offense in New Jersey, such as the unlawful possession of a firearm or the possession of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun for an unlawful purpose, contact the Tormey Law Firm today.