A N.J. gun law needs exceptions for various groups — including retailers who will only be able to buy one handgun a month from suppliers — members of a task force reviewing the legislation said. The law, intended to restrict the flow of weapons to criminals, has riled gun advocates who say it penalizes law-abiding citizens like target shooters and collectors. The task force’s central proposal would make it easier for gun store owners to stock their shelves while still limiting customers to buying one handgun every 30 days.
“As it stands now, retailers would be prohibited from purchasing guns from their suppliers,” said Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi, who leads the task force. “I think that was an oversight when the legislation was passed.”
The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, exempts sales between licensed gun dealers, but not purchases from distributors or manufacturers, which are classified differently under New Jersey law.
The proposed changes are part of a report expected to be issued this week. Robert Corrales, a spokesman for Gov. Jon Corzine, said the governor — who strongly backed the one-handgun-a-month law — supports the recommendations.
State Police Lt. Col. Christopher Andreychak, a task force member, said the law is currently too tough on retailers.
“You couldn’t run a used car business if you can only buy and sell one used car a month,” he said. “They have to have an exemption or we’ll put them out of business.”
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) said another exception is needed for people in target shooting competitions that require more than one handgun.
“These are not folks who are robbing banks or holding up people,” he said. “These are law-abiding folks who are trying to enjoy their sport or hobby, and I don’t want to be an obstacle to that.”
He said other proposals in the report include exceptions for historical re-enactors and people seeking to sell off inherited guns.
Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson) said some collectors also could receive an exemption when purchasing handguns.
Jake McGuigan, government relations director for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the task force’s recommendation on retail stores is a “step in the right direction.”
“It’s tremendous for the task force to recognize that error in the legislation,” he said.
McGuigan was among 40 lobbyists, gun owners and firearms instructors who attended a public hearing Bernardi’s panel held in September.
Corzine created the nine-member task force to recommend changes to the law if gun collectors and recreational gun users would be adversely affected by it.
The legislation passed the state Senate in June by a vote of 21-15, the slimmest of margins, and the Assembly approved it 47-28, with four abstentions.
The law exempts purchases by law enforcement officers and antique collectors. Three other states preceded New Jersey in passing similar legislation.
Cunningham, who sponsored the law, said the proposals should pass easily.
“It does not impact the original intent, which is to try to prohibit ‘straw’ purchasing of guns,” she said. “We want to be respectful of everyone’s rights while we try to solve this problem.” Star Ledger.