TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg to improve the reporting, tracing and collection of illegal firearms by requiring law enforcement to report certain information to inter-jurisdictional electronic databases received final approval today in the state Senate.
The bill is part of a legislative package put forward by Senate Democrats in recent months to combat gun violence in New Jersey and to make our communities safer. The measure (S-2718) was conditionally vetoed by the governor, but maintains the main provisions that would require that law enforcement officers seizing or recovering firearms follow a reporting procedure aimed at leveraging federal firearms databases to deter and solve gun crimes.
“It is critical that we utilize the federal resources that are available to track illegal gun activity through firearms that are abandoned, found at crime scenes, or seized from criminals,” said Majority Leader Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Doing this will improve our ability to find illegal gun traffickers that are supplying weapons in our communities, to uncover patterns of straw purchasing, and to develop investigative leads in cases of violent crimes. By ensuring that these systems are used uniformly by law enforcement going forward we will help to the stem gun violence that is taking place in cities and towns across our state.”
The bill would require law enforcement to input firearm data into various electronic databases, in particular into the National Crime Information Center System to determine whether a firearm has been reported stolen; the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives E-Trace System to establish the identity of a firearm’s first purchaser, where that firearm was purchased and when it was purchased; and the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network (NIBIN) to ascertain whether a particular firearm is related to any other criminal event or person.
Law enforcement would be required to complete a seized or recovered firearms incident report within 24 hours of entering the required information into the New Jersey Trace System or other required systems, if the firearms are unlawfully possessed, used for an unlawful purpose, recovered at a crime scene or reasonably believed to have been used in or associated with a crime, or found as abandoned or discarded weapons. Additionally, the bill would require law enforcement to test fire the firearm, if seizing or recovering firearms under one of the four categories, and submit the results of that test fire to the NIBIN to determine whether the firearm is associated with a crime. It would also require that ballistics information be submitted to NIBIN when spent shell casings are found at a crime scene, or are believed to be related to a crime or unlawful discharge of a firearm.
The governor conditionally vetoed a provision of the bill which would have required the trace information be available to the public. The Senate gave final approval to the revised bill today. It now heads back to the governor for his signature.
NJ Senate Majority Office
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