Law-abiding gun owners can breathe a sigh of relief due to A588 being held for further study by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. Sponsored by Assemblyman L. Grace Spencer (D-29), A588 has been confused for police safety legislation aimed at armor-piercing ammunition (which is already prohibited under federal and state law). This measure actually would have opened the door to a sweeping ammunition ban by an unelected public official by executive fiat. Common hunting, target, and self-defense ammunition would have been subject to ban by the Attorney General, along with BB's, airgun pellets, and non-metallic ammunition like plastic airsoft pellets, if he determined that they pose a threat to the safety and well being of law enforcement.
Although A588 only mentions handgun ammunition, it is in fact not limited to handgun ammunition, and would have applied to all rifle ammunition for which a handgun is ever made. As an increasing number of gun manufacturers make handgun models that shoot rifle caliber ammunition, the line between "handgun” vs. "rifle” ammunition has become blurred, and the New Jersey State Police have already begun treating rifle ammunition in this category as if it were handgun ammunition for regulatory purposes. As long as a handgun exists that shoots a particular caliber of rifle ammunition, New Jersey treats that ammunition as if it were handgun ammunition.
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee did pass A1013 with amendments that attempt to address gun owner concerns. This legislation will now head to the New Jersey Assembly Committee on Appropriations. A1013, sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31), would criminalize the use of a defaced or stolen firearm that is used to injure a police officer and enhances penalties for defacing a firearm. One provision of this police safety legislation significantly increases the penalties relating to "defaced” firearms. Because of New Jersey's longstanding poorly-crafted definition of "defaced” firearms, it is possible that refinishing a firearm, or long-term damage from rust or scratches from ordinary wear and tear, could be deemed "defacement” subjecting honest gun owners to lengthy prison sentences, even though identifying information on the firearm is still legible.
We would like to thank all of the NRA members who voiced their opposition to A588 and A1013. Please continue to check your e-mail and www.NRAILA.org for more updates on A588 and A1013.