(TRENTON) Assemblyman Roy Freiman and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (both D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon) have introduced a bill to raise the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns in New Jersey.
Under current law, handguns cannot be sold to anyone under 21 although licensed gun dealers in the state are allowed to sell rifles and shotguns to buyers as young as 18.
Freiman and Zwicker's bill (A-3815) would raise the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns in the state to 21.
"This is about preventing gun violence," said Freiman. "There is no easy solution to the proliferation of gun violence in this country, but there are measures we can take to help keep people safe. Bringing the rules on rifles and shotguns in line with the rules on handguns can help. If you have to be 21 to buy a handgun, the same standard should apply to rifles and shotguns."
"We want to make it harder for people with bad intentions from getting their hands on these weapons, but we also want to strike the right balance," said Zwicker. "We realize that some young people use these weapons for lawful hunting or as part of their work. This bill's careful exemptions recognize those pragmatic realities, while also limiting access to weapons for people who might want to use them to hurt others."
According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, 18 to 20 year olds commit gun homicides at a rate nearly four times higher than adults 21 and older. "Research shows that the adolescent brain is still maturing in the teenage years, which is why teens often make decisions instinctively and without weighing the consequences. This is why we need to be more careful about who we grant access to. A weapon in the hands of a person with poor impulse control can be catastrophic," said Freiman.
Under the bill, a person under 21 would be allowed to possess a handgun, rifle or shot gun in accordance with current law under the following circumstances:
- in the actual presence or under the direct supervision of a father, mother, legal guardian, or someone who holds a handgun permit or firearms purchaser ID
- Active duty or honorably discharged military and law enforcement
- for competition, target practice, instruction, and training
- for hunting during the regularly designated hunting season, provided they possesses a valid hunting license
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.