Under the guise of “gun safety”, New Jersey passed yet another law that will inevitably target the law-abiding and chill the expression of Second Amendment rights.
On August 23, Governor Phil Murphy proved yet again that he has little respect for the Second Amendment (and his constituents) by passing the so-called “Real Accountability for Consequences of Unlawful Trafficking of Firearms Act.” Like many such laws, the idealized name does little to reflect the content of the bill or how it will affect the real world.
The New Jersey legislature’s brilliant approach is to make something that was already a crime… a crime, ensuring it will have literally no impact on actual criminal activity, only the law-abiding who will be ensnared by its overly broad language.
(As we’ve previously reported, the New Jersey Attorney General already has a record of going soft on gun crime and actually dismissing gun charges in murder cases.)
New Jersey lawmakers who overwhelmingly supported the new bill with a 75 “yes” to zero “no” vote (not including 4 absent and one abstaining) apparently didn’t realize that there’s already a federal law against straw purchases.
As with many such bills, the text addresses broad and vague activities that further complicate New Jersey’s already onerous and complex gun laws and are sure to ensnare the law-abiding who inadvertently misstep when conducting firearms transactions, exchanges, and transport.
A simple example is an element of the new law that requires the seller to effectively guess the intent of the buyer, effectively establishing a precedent of “future crime”:
A violation of paragraph (4) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-10 by selling or transferring a firearm knowing that the recipient intends to sell, transfer, assign, or otherwise dispose of that firearm to another person who is disqualified from possessing a firearm under State or federal law;
Another incredibly vague term appears in a section addressing transport, using the term “conspiring” without defining the context of what that means and exactly how it applies:
A violation of subsection i. of N.J.S.2C:39-9 by transporting, shipping, or otherwise bringing into this State, or conspiring to transport, ship, or otherwise bring into this State, any firearm for the purpose of unlawfully selling, transferring, giving, assigning, or otherwise disposing of that firearm to another individual;
What of the penalties of being charged under this new law if a firearm is used in a crime? Just as bad as if you pulled the trigger yourself:
A person who purposely commits any firearm trafficking violation enumerated in subsection a. of this section shall be strictly liable for a death that results from the discharge of the illegally trafficked firearm used in the course of committing a crime and shall be guilty of a crime of the first degree.
It’s no secret that New Jersey is using every avenue it can to attack the Second Amendment. As we’ve previously reported, they are attempting to circumvent the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to sue gun manufacturers. Sadly, the Third Circuit sided with the state in a recent motion.
It’s highly probable that Second Amendment advocacy groups will challenge the law. We will continue to cover this story.