Assembly Democrats Joe Lagana and Tim Eustace (Both D-Bergen, Passaic) recently introduced legislation that aims to ensure prospective licensed gun owners are educated on responsible firearm ownership, safe storage, how to restrict access to firearms by unsupervised minors, and any other matters concerning gun safety.
The Lagana and Eustace bill (A-3764) requires an applicant for an initial firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun to successfully complete a firearms education program approved by the Superintendent of State Police.
Both Assemblymen are licensed gun owners and advocates for responsible gun ownership.
“Gun accidents have claimed far too many innocent lives far too often in this country,” Lagana said. “Gun accident prevention begins with ensuring that prospective gun owners understand what responsible gun ownership entails.”
“The most devastating gun accident stories are of innocent children who find unsecured firearms of relatives,” Eustace said. “This legislation educates prospective gun owners on how to keep themselves and their families safe while owning a firearm.”
Under the bill, acceptable evidence of successfully completing a firearms education program includes: a certificate indicating satisfactory completion of a National Rifle Association firearms course; a certificate that the applicant is a certified National Rifle Association Firearms Instructor; a copy of a firearms or hunting license or permit from any other jurisdiction that requires the holder to successfully complete a substantially equivalent firearms education program; or any other documentation, certificate, or certification deemed substantially equivalent by the superintendant.
The bill stipulates the superintendent is responsible for developing the program curriculum and certificate evidencing successful completion of the firearms education program. The certificate will be required for an initial application for a firearms purchaser identification card or initial permit to purchase a handgun, but not for a renewal of a card or permit.
The sponsors also note in the bill that substantially equivalent training through law enforcement or military service is to be substituted for the education program.
“In order to effectively prevent unnecessary gun violence, gun safety must be taught and not just encouraged with pamphlets and handbooks” Lagana continued. “Diligence in promoting the safe use and storage of firearms will save more lives in the future from gun violence.”
“Education is a critical component of protecting the well being of families and children from preventable gun violence,” Eustace added. “A gun safety education program will help to prepare first–time gun owners to handle the great responsibility that comes with owning a firearm.”
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.