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Friday, November 23, 2007

New gun trafficking bill gathers momentum

A New Jersey assemblyman has moved to take care of a glaring hole in New Jersey's defences against firearm-fueled street crime, by writing legislation that makes unlawful sales and transfers illegal.

The legislation's sponsor, Neal M. Cohen, D-Union, said it was necessary to put a law specifically tackling illegal gun trafficking, because New Jersey's current laws have no specific rules against the practice, using other state law to prosecute offenders instead.

"A disproportionate number of gun-related crimes in New Jersey are committed with weapons purchased outside the state, yet we have no law on the books specifically against gun trafficking," said Mr. Cohen, whose bill was released from committee on Nov. 19. "That needs to change before more lives are needlessly lost."

Current state laws prosecute offenders through the state's licensing and permitting statutes, which hit offenders with punishments that include up $10,000 in penalties and a maximum of 18 months in jail.

The new law would hit any person who knowingly transports, ships or otherwise brings forearms into New Jersey with the intent to illegally sell or give them to another individual with up to $150,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.

The new law would help with the war on violent crime, but it would not stop gang members and criminals from making a short trip over the Delaware River to Pennsylvania, which continues to maintain gun laws that are extremely lax, compared with New Jersey.

Until state officials press our neighboring states for more restrictions on weapons sales, the stream of guns will continue, and so will the violence plaguing New Jersey's urban areas.

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