New Weapons Laws Change Little in New Jersey

Despite fears by many firearm owners, the new executive action by President Obama to tighten gun control throughout the country after increased instances of violence has changed little throughout New Jersey. This is primarily because our state has one of the strictest legislation about weapons ownership and use already, but even still it has been hit with some minor backlash among the New Jersey political elite and regular gun owners alike. Here’s a look into the new legislation and what you will need to do to avoid a weapons charge.

Businesses: Several local store owners weighed in on the news, including Tom Clayton, who is the owner of Willow Grove’s Clayton’s Hunting and Fishing. According to Clayton, sales had hardly changed since the executive action. He regularly encourages customers to be cleared for the long guns they purchase, even before it was legally required to do so.

Similarly, Bob Viden of Glassboro, the owner of Bob’s Little Sport Shop, said that there needs to be some more refinement done to the current system, adding that he would not want to sell a firearm to someone who was mentally ill. Viden also noted that federal background checks may not always succeed, as many mass shooters use weapons that were legally purchased by a family member or other person. He does oppose the federal registry of gun owners which could block individuals from purchasing a firearm, similar to the no-fly list, without disclosing a reason to the potential purchaser.

Elsewhere: One of our closest neighboring states, especially for those in South Jersey, is Pennsylvania, which has more lenient laws currently, in part due to the increased availability of game hunting throughout the state. In PA, the executive action has a slightly bigger impact, but not by much. The new laws will affect the private sale of rifles, shotguns, and other long guns. PA is still relatively conservative with their weapons laws, and does already require a background check for the sales of all handguns, which must also be brokered by a third party (law enforcement or a license dealer) if the sale is between neighbors or during a show. Not following these new restrictions could result in a weapons charge.

Government: Several local leaders of government have released statements regarding the executive action, many of them Pennsylvanian. Republican Senator Pat Toomey has challenged the legislation, saying that while he agrees with it morally, the action should have been approved through Congress rather than pushed through by the president himself. Toomey’s position has been criticized by his political opponents, Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty.

Predictably along party lines, most Republican politicians criticized the action while Democrats supported it as long overdue. PA State Representative Steve Santarsiero is glad that several loopholes have finally been closed, and worries that the executive action could be reversed should the administration change in the upcoming election year.

The Philadelphia police commissioner, Richard Ross also applauded the executive action and new weapons charges, saying that it was a “small step in the right direction.”

What to Do: If you are have been hit with a firearms offense or weapons charge, be sure to work with an experienced lawyer throughout the process. For a free consultation, call us at Zappichi & Liller LLP today at 609-291-9500.