What do New Jersey’s 7 New Gun Laws Do?
Thought New Jersey’s Gun Laws were Already Tough? They Just Got Tougher
Governor Murphy signed a new slate of gun bills into law earlier this month that defenders call common sense and detractors criticize as eroding Second Amendment rights in New Jersey. The seven new laws, termed the “Gun Safety Package 3.0,” is the third slew of gun laws the legislature has passed since 2018, and Governor Murphy’s term began. Included in the latest package of seven gun laws in July 2022 are new training requirements for gun permits, a new weapons ban on 0.50 caliber firearms, an avenue to suing gun manufacturers and dealers, micro-stamping mandates, a guns without serial numbers crackdown, advanced ammunition regulations, and out-of-state gun registration requirements. Here is an explanation of what each law does and what it means for New Jersey residents, people moving to the state from elsewhere with firearms, manufacturers and dealers of weapons, and individuals seeking to own or possess guns in the Garden State.
Understanding the Seven New Gun Bills Passed in NJ: July 2022 Update
The first of the new laws, Bill A1765, allows the Attorney General to bring a cause of action against gun industry members for creating or contributing to a public nuisance in firearms marketing or sales. The bill defines the gun industry or member of the gun industry as anyone or any entity that engages in the sale, manufacture, or marketing of firearms, ammunition, and gun parts. A public nuisance is anything that endangers the health, safety, and wellbeing of others or disturbs their peace. The bill explicitly aims to protect the public against gun promoters and manufacturers who irresponsibly market legal but lethal weapons that end up in a secondary market, meaning the black market where illegal sales occur.
Proving Safe Handling of Firearms for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card
Bill A4370 addresses another requirement involving the safe handling of firearms in order to obtain gun permits. The bill now implements proving safe handling as a requirement for a firearms purchaser identification card (FPIC) or a permit to purchase a handgun. When applying for a handgun purchaser permit or FPIC, the purchaser must show proof that they had passed an approved firearms safe handling and storage course in the last four years. A purchaser must provide proof only once before obtaining an FPIC or handgun permit. Those with permits and FPICs before the law’s enactment are exempt, as are police, retired police, military, and veterans who satisfied the requirements in their training. The bill also adds a ten-year expiration date for an FPIC, meaning the permit must be renewed 10 years after its issuance.
Gun Registration for New Residents of NJ
Concerning out-of-state gun owners, A1179 requires new residents (after the date of this legislation) bringing their firearms into New Jersey to apply for an FPIC and register their firearms within 60 days of their residency. Firearms registration gives law enforcement a signed statement of the owner’s and firearm’s identification and location to keep on file. In addition, the new resident can register with the law enforcement local to their residence.
Ushering in Microstamping
Bill A4368 sets up the framework for studying, verifying, and implementing the sales of microstamping-enabled firearms. A micro stamp is an identification code of letters or shapes corresponding to the serial number, make, and model of a specific gun. The law commands the Attorney General to investigate whether viable microstamping technology exists for making microstamped firearms and if so, to make them available for sale. The law also requires a system of tracking microstamping-enabled guns on a roster. Under the new law, licensed firearms dealers must sell microstamping-enabled firearms once the Attorney General confirms they are available.
Microstamping firearms are those that can micro stamp used cartridges with each firing. The law mandates that the Attorney General designate a microstamping examiner who oversees qualifying firearms as microstamping-enabled and keeping a roster of the guns to publicize on the New Jersey State Police website. The information available to firearms dealers enables them to sell one or more firearms on the roster. In addition, under the law, retailers may be fined for misrepresenting the microstamping capability of any gun and not maintaining a stock of microstamping-enabled firearms, among other requirements under the law. Additionally, anyone who tampers with a firearm’s microstamping capability is guilty of a third degree crime.
Tracking Ammunition Purchases
Not only firearms, but ammunition, is also the subject of the new laws. A1302 mandates detailed handgun ammunition sales electronic records and reporting by gun manufacturers, wholesale dealers, and retailers. The gun makers, dealers, and retailers have one year to establish protocols for tracking handgun ammunition sales that identify the purchaser by name and address, type, and quantity of ammunition. All records are subject to inspection by law enforcement. Thus, a purchaser must produce a driver’s license, state identification card, or other official photo identification in addition to an FPIC or handgun permit to purchase handgun ammunition.
Upgrading Degree and Penalties for Certain Manufacturing Offenses
As is the case with all the new laws, S2846 seeks to deter gun crime with tougher sanctions and requirements, this time for manufacturing offenses related to ghost guns and undetectable guns. The bill increases the penalties for unlicensed purchasing parts to manufacture, assembling, or making guns without serial numbers or with three-dimensional printers, from a third degree to a second degree crime. A third degree criminal conviction could mean up to five years in prison and a $15,000.00 fine, but a second degree criminal conviction sentence could be as high as ten years in prison and $150,000.00 in penalties. Likewise, a second degree crime comes with a presumption of imprisonment, meaning even a first-time offender charged with a felony at this level is presumably required to serve a prison sentence. A third degree crime does not carry this presumption for those with no prior criminal record.
New Category of Rifles Banned
Finally, S2905 classifies specific types of 0.50 caliber rifles as banned destructive devices. The law prohibits center-firing rifles having .50 browning machine gun cartridges. In order to qualify as .50 BMG under the new law, a cartridge must entail all of these specifications:
- total length of 5.54 inches from the bullet’s base to the tip;
- cartridge with a bullet diameter from .510 inches to and including .511 inch
- cartridge case base diameter from .800 inches to and including .804 inch; and
- cartridge case length of 3.91 inches
The ban does not apply to antique or collector firearms, not to rifles of this caliber that shoot blanks and are used for historical reenactments, entertainment, or education events. Those who already have the banned weapons before the law passed may keep them if they register them with law enforcement and pay a $50 fee; otherwise, they must surrender them within a year.
New Requirements and Violations under the New Laws
With new laws come new violations. Those dealers, manufacturers, retailers, purchasers, and possessors unaware of the latest package of laws in New Jersey face potential criminal convictions for serious weapons law violations. If you are in doubt as to whether the new laws apply to you or you have been charged with a guns or weapons offense violating current laws in NJ, speak with a well-versed gun lawyer at our firm who can advise you. You may need help understanding your obligations involving firearms and weapons or be wondering whether your gun is illegal now. You may also need an experienced gun defense attorney if you are facing charges for allegedly violated the state’s many gun laws, as the penalties are stringent. A strong legal defense is critical when going up against the state’s tough-on-crime stance on gun and ammunition purchasing, ownership, possession, transportation, and sales.
You can trust the advice of our New Jersey firearms lawyers, as we are in the trenches of the criminal justice system defending clients charged with guns and weapons violations all over the state every week. We know how to undermine a prosecutor’s case to get gun charges dismissed, negotiate for lesser sentences, help our clients obtain Graves Act Waivers to avoid mandatory prison time without parole eligibility, and gain acceptance into Pretrial Intervention (aka the PTI Program) to avoid a criminal conviction altogether. If you need help with a gun case, call (201) 614-2474 for a free consultation or send us a message 24/7.