(TRENTON) - A legislative package sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Speaker Sheila Oliver, Assemblyman Tim Eustace, Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and Assemblywoman Marlene Caride to enhance penalties for gun trafficking in New Jersey was released Thursday by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
"Many of the weapons used in gun crimes are brought into the state illegally. These bills send a clear message that this will not be tolerated," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "If you provide the car that enables a trafficker to smuggle guns into our neighborhoods, get ready to buy a new one. If you're going to smuggle guns, understand that you are going to spend a considerable time in jail."
The first bill (A-3853), sponsored by Singleton, Oliver, Eustace, Spencer and Sumter, clarifies that any motor vehicle used by a person to transport, ship or bring any firearm into the state for the purpose of unlawfully selling, transferring or giving that firearm to another is subject to seizure and forfeiture. The second bill (A-3854), sponsored by Singleton, Oliver, Eustace, Sumter, Spencer and Caride, enhances the penalty for firearms trafficking in the state by making that crime subject to the No Early Release Act. Under the No Early Release Act, a violator must serve 85 percent of the term of incarceration imposed by the court before becoming eligible for parole.
The bills are part of the ongoing Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention initiative.
"Gun violence has become an epidemic in many of our communities. There is no one solution to gun violence, but these and other gun violence prevention measures we are proposing can collectively help put a dent on gun crime," said Oliver (D-Essex). "Whether it means forfeiting your car or your freedom, this bill ensures that if you smuggle guns into our state, you will pay the price."
"Behind many of these guns is a family grieving a loss. By providing the means to illegally transport these guns into the state, these individuals are essentially putting the guns directly in the hands of criminals," said Eustace (D-Bergen). "The enhanced penalties created by this bill may not end all gun violence, but coupled with other preventative measures, can help the fight against it."
"People who smuggle or help smuggle guns into the state are just as responsible for the gun violence that terrorizes many of our communities as the criminals who perpetrate it," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "If the devastation that gun violence leaves behind is not enough of a moral deterrent, then maybe the possibility of losing your car or serving a lengthy prison sentence will be."
"Many of the guns recovered in crimes in New Jersey came from outside the state," said Spencer (D-Essex). "Guns are being brought into the state illegally and innocent people are paying the price. Toughening the penalties for individuals who choose to play a role in the devastating cycle of gun violence can help protect innocent bystanders from getting caught in the crossfire."
"Gun traffickers are supplying criminals with weapons they would otherwise not have access to, to the detriment of neighborhoods and law-abiding citizens," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). "These smugglers are just as accountable for the violence, even if they did not pull the trigger. If they do the crime, this bill ensures they serve the bulk of the time before parole is even considered."