Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at Harrah's Casino


Gov. Phil Murphy is scheduled to speak at 11 a.m. Monday.

Some say a package of laws Gov. Phil Murphy signed this past week will reduce gun violence and keep children safe in schools.

Others say the laws go against the 2nd Amendment and punish law-abiding gun owners.

On Thursday, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action announced its support for a lawsuit filed by the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs challenging one of the laws that lowered magazine capacities from 15 rounds to 10, arguing it won’t stop criminals from using existing magazines.

“Magazine bans do not deter criminals or improve public safety. Instead, they irrationally burden the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA, said in a statement.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment on the laws beyond the magazine reduction.

Local legislators say they supported some of the laws but think others will do little to curb violence.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, voted in favor of four of the six laws.

Van Drew favored the seizure of firearms when a mental health professional determines someone poses a threat, allowing for an extreme-risk protective order if a court deems someone poses a significant danger to themselves or others, requiring background checks for private gun sales and prohibiting body-armor penetrating ammunition.

He said those four laws will help prevent someone like Nikolas Cruz, the killer in the Parkland, Florida, school shootings, from falling through the cracks of law enforcement.

Van Drew did not vote in favor of the magazine reduction, saying it would negatively affect law-abiding citizens and not stop violence. He also voted against a law that would require state residents show a “justifiable need” to get a carry permit. He said the “justifiable need” just lets people with “connections” get permits while others do not.

He said anyone who wants a permit should be able to get one if they pass a background check, pass written tests on arms, defense and how to work the guns themselves, and qualify sufficiently on the range.

“We are already very strict with carry permits already, about as strict as any state in the country,” Van Drew said. “But the people who carry now sometimes don’t have any training at all, which is why I like the idea of passing tests instead. This law didn’t do that.”

State Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, voted for five of the six laws that passed. He voted against the magazine reduction.

“Protecting our families and keeping our children safe at school remains a top priority, which is why I support common-sense reform to our gun laws, such as background checks for private gun sales, mental health checks on people who pose a threat of harm to themselves or others, and banning body armor piercing rounds, to ensure we keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Brown said in a statement.

New Jersey joins other states, including Florida and Vermont, enacting gun control measures since the Feb. 14 Parkland shootings, which set off a series of rallies across the country aimed at reducing gun violence through tighter laws.

Murphy on Wednesday brought up the midterm congressional elections and called on voters to pick candidates who will vote for “common-sense” gun control legislation.

Moms Demand Action, a group that supports gun-control measures, applauded Murphy for signing the laws.

“Gun-sense champion Gov. Murphy ran a campaign focusing on preventing gun violence. He has upheld that promise,” Brett Sabo, volunteer leader with the New Jersey chapter, said in a statement. “We could not be more proud to stand by his side this week as he signs these crucial pieces of legislation into law.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7260 Twitter @ACPressDeRosier

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