The New Jersey State Senate voted on Thursday to pass 10 gun-related measures, including one bill that will change the way that firearm permits–and driver’s licenses–are issued. If passed into law, Senate Bill 2723 will replace firearms ID (FID) cards with encoded driver’s licenses, allowing gun owners to be easily identified. Lawmakers say that the new licenses should not be visually different from a regular license but would have information on it such as criminal offenses, which will alert gun retailers if the owner tries to purchase a firearm. According to NJ.com, the new technology would allow for instant background checks. Supporters of the bill hope that it will set a new national model.
“I expect other states will look at what we just did,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
The vote followed on the heels of a similar passing of gun-related bills in California. New Jersey legislators in favor of the new measures say that the proposals will lower gun crime. Nearby New York passed the first set of gun control laws earlier this year in response to the Newtown shooting that occurred last December. Since then, Colorado, Connecticut, and Maryland followed suit with similar legislature.
Other bills passed in the package included a proposal to ban possession of .50 caliber firearms (SB2178), require submission of mental health records to the NICS (A3717), prohibiting investment of state pension funds in companies that make, import or sell “assault weapons” (SB2467), restrict gun ownership to persons listed on the federal Terrorist Watchlist (SB2485), increase penalties to criminals caught with firearms (SB1133 and SB2804), increase the penalty for transferring a firearm to a minor (SB1279), as well as increasing the statute of limitations for gun theft (SB2801) and a bill that protects the privacy of gun owners (SB2552).
Pro-Second Amendment groups have criticized the majority of the new gun bills. The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) is especially concerned over the potential for abuse by these proposals.
“By and large this is basically an attack on gun rights,” ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach told OutdoorHub. “There are a few things in the package that would be of small benefit to gun owners, but we have requested a number of easy fixes to issues and they have not done it.”
Bach also expressed concern over the encoded licences’ potential to form a registry of ammunition purchases and long gun sales.
“The capability that this new card is supposed to have is when you go to a gun dealer to purchase firearms and ammunition, you swipe the card,” Bach explained. “If you’re approved you walk away with the purchase. The information on what you purchased will be transmitted in real time to the state police. If you bought a case of ammo, 1,000 rounds let’s say, the information would be immediately given over to the police. Nobody knows what that means. The police could say that ‘oh, it’s ten times the amount we think is appropriate.'”
Three of the bills–SB2178, SB2467, and SB2485–will head directly to Governor Chris Christie while the majority move to the state Assembly.