Home>Highlight>Gun control package’s future in doubt as Senate fails to act

Gov. Phil Murphy signs an executive order on gun safety at Morristown Town Hall on September 11, 2019. (Photo: Office of the Governor).

Gun control package’s future in doubt as Senate fails to act

Out-of-state ID law, scheduled for committee vote, taken off docket

By Joey Fox, January 06 2022 6:26 pm

gun control package championed by Gov. Phil Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin appears to have largely foundered in the Senate, as the lone bill on the committee schedule today – a requirement for firearm owners moving from out of state to obtain an identification card – did not come up for a vote at all.

Among other measures, the larger package would ban .50 caliber weapons, mandate safe firearm storage, and require semi-automatic weapons to be microstamped and databased.

The entire nine-bill package sailed through Assembly committees in mid-December, but quickly ran into a number of obstacles in the Senate, among them Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), who said he was wary of many of the bills. Only one of the nine bills, the out-of-state ID requirement, has been brought before committee.

Today, even that lone bill – which initially passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee – failed to come to a vote in the Budget and Appropriations Committee, where it was sent for second reading.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), the chair of the committee, said after the meeting that the members of the committee could not come to a consensus on the bill, with some senators expressing discomfort at the penalties incurred on those who did not properly register their firearms.

“The bill was held because members on both sides of the aisle, both Democratic and Republican members, were supportive of the firearm identification card piece, but were concerned about how far the penalties went, and how stringent the penalties were,” Sarlo said.

If none of the bills make it through the Senate before the lame duck session ends, all will have to be reintroduced in the next legislative session. The bill’s supporters will potentially have a more amenable Senate President to work with in State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), but Democrats will also face narrower margins due to Republican victories last year.

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