Yes, a gun editorial.

We've been running a little short of letters to Voice of the People lately, so we thought we'd try to generate some - and nothing works that magic like writing about guns. But please, try to hold it to a thousand or so letters, OK?

Actually, the proposed gun-control law we are endorsing today is something that you would think both sides of the never-ending gun debate could agree on. (And we actually have plenty of letters.)

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As gun-rights advocates like to say, if you criminalize gun ownership, then only criminals will have guns. After all, they note, criminals don't follow laws.

OK, duly noted. But where do criminals get guns? Well, quite often they steal them.

Which brings us to the bipartisan bill being sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, and Republicans Jon Bramnick, of Morris County, and Jack Ciattarelli, of Hunterdon County. Furthermore, Gusciora is giving credit to former Republican Assembly candidate Steve Cook for proposing the idea during the last campaign.

Yes, this is a gun-control measure - a smart one that will actually have an effect - that even Republicans can support. Maybe even one that Gov. Chris Christie will sign.

Currently, theft of a firearm is a third-degree crime punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, three to five years in prison or both. However - and this is a big "however" - first-time offenders convicted of committing third-degree or fourth-degree crimes are usually sentenced to probation, not prison.

So, yes, criminals don't buy guns at Bass Pro Shops. They steal guns - perhaps from your den. As Gusciora said in a press release, "a significant amount" of the guns on the street today are stolen. We would take it a step further and venture to say that most of the guns used in crimes were probably stolen at some point.

But break into a house and steal a gun and, if this is the first time you got caught, you are not likely to go to prison. How can that possibly make sense?

Gusciora's bill (A2916) would change that by adding the theft of a firearm to the list of crimes to which the presumption of non-imprisonment does not apply.

In other words, get convicted of stealing a gun and you'll be far more likely to go directly to prison - not back out on the street.

It is difficult to believe that this is not already the law. But apparently it is not. Such is the nature of New Jersey's rancorous debate over guns that the state does not even ensure that gun thieves go to prison.

Surely, Gusciora's, Bramnick's and Ciattarelli's colleagues - as well as even the staunchest gun-rights advocates - should be able to accept this measure.

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