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Moriarty Bill to Keep Guns Away from Dangerous Persons Now Law

The Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018 – which authorizes new protective orders against those who pose a significant danger by either possessing or purchasing a firearm – sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty has been signed into law.

The order prohibits the subject from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition and from holding a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun and permit to carry a firearm.

The current system isn’t working. Too many times we’ve asked what if? We need creative solutions that improve safety.

The law (A-1217) establishes a process and procedures for obtaining a protective order against persons who pose a significant danger of bodily injury to themselves or others by possessing or purchasing a firearm.
The order prohibits the subject of the order from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition and from holding a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, and permit to carry a handgun.

A look at the law:
TEMPORARY EXTREME RISK PROTECTIVE ORDER 
The law authorizes a family or household member or a law enforcement officer to file a petition for a temporary extreme risk protective order alleging that a person poses a significant danger of bodily injury to self or others by having custody or control of, owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.

It specifically authorizes a family or household member or a law enforcement officer to file a petition in the Superior Court, in accordance with the Rules of Court, or in a state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency for a temporary extreme risk protective order alleging that a specific person, other than a law enforcement officer, poses a significant danger of bodily injury to self or others by having custody or control of, owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.

In the case of a petition filed in a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement officer or employee receiving the petition is required to advise the petitioner of the procedure for completing and signing a petition. The petition is to include an affidavit including the number, types, physical description, and locations of any firearms and ammunition the petitioner believes are controlled or possessed by the respondent.

A petition for a temporary extreme risk protective order filed against a law enforcement officer is to be filed in the law enforcement agency in which the officer is employed. The law enforcement officer or employee receiving the petition is required to advise the petitioner of the procedure for completing and signing a petition.

Upon receipt of the petition, the officer’s employer is immediately required to initiate an internal affairs investigation. The disposition of the internal affairs investigation is to immediately be served upon the county prosecutor, who is required to make a determination of whether to refer the matter to the courts. The officer’s employer is required to take appropriate steps to implement any findings set forth in the disposition of the internal affairs investigation. The law enforcement officer is to not be terminated during the pendency of the internal affairs investigation.
The law directs that a petition filed against any person who is not a law enforcement officer is to be heard by the Superior Court in an expedited manner. The court is to issue the protective order if it finds good cause to believe that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing bodily injury to self or others by having custody or control of, owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm. The court would not charge a fee to file the petition.

In order to assist the court in determining whether to issue a temporary extreme risk protection order, the county prosecutor is to produce, in an expedited manner, any available evidence. In deciding whether to issue the temporary protective order, the court would consider: whether the person has a history of threats or acts of violence directed toward self or others; a history of use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another; a recent violation of a restraining order issued pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 or a protective order issued pursuant to the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015; a conviction of a violent disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, stalking offense, domestic violence offense, or an offense involving cruelty to animals; and a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

The law also authorizes the court to consider other factors related to whether the respondent poses an increased risk of violence, including information produced by the county prosecutor in an expedited manner as well as any other factors including, but not limited to, whether the person has a history of violating a restraining order issued pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 or a protective order issued pursuant to the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015; prior arrests for a violent disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, stalking, or domestic violence offense; and recent acquisitions of a firearm, ammunition, or other deadly weapon.

A temporary extreme risk protective order prohibits the subject of the order from having custody or control of, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition. It also prohibits the person from securing or holding a firearms purchaser identification card, a permit to purchase a handgun, or a permit to carry a handgun while the order is in effect. Under the order, the subject would be required to surrender firearms and ammunition, as well as the identification card or permits, which would be immediately revoked.

FINAL EXTREME RISK PROTECTIVE ORDER 
The court is to consider whether a final extreme risk protection order should be issued during a hearing to be held within 10 days of the filing of the temporary extreme risk protection order. The court is to consider the same factors considered for a temporary extreme risk protection order. The final extreme risk protection order is to be issued if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person poses a significant danger of bodily injury to self or others by having custody or control of, owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.

Upon request of the petitioner or respondent, at any time following the issuance of the final extreme risk protection order and after notice and a hearing, the court may terminate the order. The court is to consider the same factors during the hearing that were considered for the temporary extreme risk protection order, as well as any other relevant evidence, including whether the respondent has received, or is receiving, mental health treatment. If the respondent petitioned to terminate the final extreme risk protection order, the respondent bears the burden at the hearing of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she no longer poses a significant danger of causing bodily injury to himself or herself or to others by having custody or control of, owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.

SURRENDER PROVISIONS 
A person against whom a temporary or final extreme risk protective order is issued is required to surrender to the local law enforcement agency or to surrender or sell to a federally licensed dealer all firearms and ammunition in the person’s custody or control, or which the person owns or possesses, and to surrender to law enforcement any firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or permit to carry a handgun the person holds.

The person can petition for the return of the firearms or ammunition after the final extreme risk protective order is terminated. The agency is to return the firearms or ammunition within 30 days of the petition, unless the firearm has been reported stolen or the respondent is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. The person also may sell surrendered firearms or ammunition to a licensed dealer. A law enforcement agency holding a surrendered firearm or ammunition a year after the order is terminated is authorized to destroy the firearm or ammunition in accordance with agency policies.

PETITION TO TERMINATE EXTREME RISK PROTECTIVE ORDER 
The subject of an order has the opportunity to have an order terminated. The subject is required to prove at a hearing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she no longer poses a significant danger of causing bodily injury to self or another by having custody or control of, owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.

CONTEMPT OF AN EXTREME RISK PROTECTIVE ORDER 
Under the law, a respondent who is in contempt of an extreme risk protective order is to be arrested. If a person alleges that a respondent has committed contempt of an extreme risk protective order but the facts are insufficient to establish probable cause to arrest the respondent, a law enforcement officer shall advise the petitioner of the procedure for completing and signing a criminal complaint alleging a person is in contempt of an extreme risk protective order.

ELECTRONIC CENTRAL REGISTRY 
The law further requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to include all persons who have had a final extreme risk protective order entered against them, and all persons who have been charged with a violation of a temporary or final extreme risk protective order in an electronic central registry created and maintained by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

These records are to be kept confidential and released only to a police or other law enforcement agency investigating a report of a crime, offense, or act of domestic violence, or conducting a background investigation involving a person’s application for a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun or employment as a police or law enforcement officer, or for any other purpose authorized by law or the Supreme Court of the state of New Jersey. The law further provides that a respondent’s information, other than information related to a violation of a temporary or final extreme risk protection order, are to be removed from the registry upon the termination of the extreme risk protective order.

PENALTIES 
A person who violates a temporary or final extreme risk protection order is guilty of a fourth degree crime, which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
A person subject to a temporary or final extreme risk protection order who purchases, acquires, owns, possesses, or controls a firearm or ammunition commits a crime of the third degree, which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
The subject of an order also is disqualified from obtaining a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun.

Mosquera & Moriarty Bill to Prevent Gun Violence among Individuals with Mental Disorders Becomes Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera and Paul Moriarty sponsored to prevent individuals with an elevated risk of engaging in violence due to mental illness from harming themselves and others was signed into law Thursday.

Suicide – the 10th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-34 – is substantially more likely among those with mental disorders, Jones noted. The vast majority of people who have a mental illness will never commit an act of violence, but multiple mass shootings, domestic violence homicides and suicides in this country could have been prevented if people known to have serious mental health concerns did not have access to a firearm.

The sobering reality is that there is no single solution to gun violence. It has to be a multipronged approach. This is one way to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others. Coupled with other common sense efforts, this can help prevent potential threats and keep the public safe.

The new law (formerly bill A-1181) would expand the “duty to warn and protect” by requiring practitioners of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage and family therapy who determine a patient to be a threat to him- or herself or others to report the patient to law enforcement. If law enforcement then determines that the patient has access to a firearm – and thus has an actionable means of carrying out a previously-communicated threat of serious physical violence – the courts ultimately may order the patient to surrender any firearms in his or her possession.

Under previous law, a “duty to warn and protect” is incurred when: 1) a patient has expressed a threat of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself and 2) the professional has reason to believe circumstances exist that would allow the patient to act on the threat.

If both conditions are met, the practitioner must do one or more of the following:
? arrange for the patient to be admitted voluntarily to a psychiatric unit of a general hospital, a short-term care facility, a special psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric facility;
? initiate procedures for involuntary commitment to treatment of the patient to an outpatient treatment provider, a short-term care facility, a special psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric facility;
? advise a local law enforcement authority of the patient’s threat and the identity of the intended victim;
? warn the intended victim or, if the intend victim is a minor, his or her parent or guardian; or
? if the patient is a minor and threatens to commit suicide or bodily injury upon himself, warn his or her parent or guardian.

The new law, a licensed practitioner of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage and family therapy also would be required to notify the chief of police of the municipality in which the patient resides that a duty to warn and protect has been incurred and provide the police chief with that patient’s name and other non-clinical identifying information. The chief then would use the information to determine whether the patient is authorized to possess a firearm. As current state law prohibits those who have been confined for a mental disorder and those for whom authorization would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare from receiving authorization to possess a firearm, under the bill, any identification card or permit the patient was issued would then be void and subject to revocation by the Superior Court, and the court may order the patient to surrender his or her firearms to the county prosecutor.

If a patient submits to the Superior Court a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey or other satisfactory proof that he or she is no longer suffering from a medical disorder that would interfere with the safe handling of firearms, the patient’s firearms purchaser identification cards or other permit or license then may be reinstated.

Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty Legislation to Counter Efforts to Weaken Gun Safety Regulations Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty aimed at ensuring strong gun safety regulations are codified into law in New Jersey was signed into law Thursday.

The new law aims to prevent a future governor from attempting to weaken the regulations, as former Governor Chris Christie had attempted to do.

The bill (A-2758) would codify the definition of “justifiable need,” presently outlined only in state regulations, into state statute. The measure is a response to ex-Governor Christie’s effort to expand the definition of “justifiable need” for the purpose of obtaining a gun carry permit.

Under current law, in order to lawfully carry a handgun in public, it is necessary for a private citizen to obtain a permit to carry a handgun. Applicants for a permit to carry a handgun need the approval of the chief of police in the municipality where they reside and the approval of a Superior Court judge in the county where they reside. Approval is contingent upon a person submitting, with an application, a written certification establishing justifiable need.

Under previous regulation, justifiable need was defined as the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry. In addition, the law requires the applicant, where possible, to corroborate the existence of any specific threats or previous attacks by reference to reports of the incidents to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
This bill codifies these regulations into statute.

Both state and federal courts upheld the constitutionality of the state’s justifiable need requirement.

Governor Christie tried to expand the scope of the right to carry well beyond what is authorized under current law and judicial interpretation,” said Moriarty. That was entirely inconsistent with the Legislature’s intent to carefully and prudently monitor who may carry a handgun, which is for the safety and wellbeing of all New Jerseyans. Now, we can do that with this new law.

The full Assembly approved the legislation, 48-26-2, in March.

Assembly Gun Safety Bills Clear Legislature Now Law

Six gun safety bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats were signed into law Thursday. Among them, legislation aiming to keep guns away from those who pose threats, reducing ammunition magazine capacity, enhancing background checks, banning armor-piercing ammunition and countering efforts to weaken gun safety regulations.

A brief overview of each measure:
· A-1181 (Jones/Mosquera/Sumter/Downey/Barclay) – Requires firearms seizure when certain health care professional determines patient poses threat of harm to self or others.

“For someone who may be struggling with disturbing thoughts, having access to a firearm significantly increases the likelihood of suicide,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By reducing their access to a lethal weapon, New Jersey can help prevent fatalities among those with serious mental health concerns.”

· A-1217 (McKeon/Greenwald/Jasey/Eustace/Zwicker/Murphy/Moriarty) – Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018.

“We’ve seen too many ‘what ifs’ when it comes to these mass shootings, often centered around the question of why didn’t somebody do something to take guns away from someone who is mentally unstable,” said Assemblyman McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This new law makes it easier to accomplish that goal and, ultimately, protect our communities and our children. The status quo doesn’t work. We need to take new approaches that allow authorities a real chance to keep guns away from mentally unstable individuals who pose a threat to us all.”

· A-2761 (Greenwald/Quijano/Johnson/Holley/Moriarty) – Reduces maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; exempts firearms with .22 caliber tubular magazines from 10 round limitation.

“Meeting the families of Sandy Hook was one of the most moving experiences of my 22 years of public service,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “For these families, the single most important law we could have fought for is lowering magazine capacity. I refused to let these families down, to look them in the eyes and tell them we are powerless – that their loved ones were a tragic but necessary, loss. No loss to gun violence is ever necessary.”

· A-2757 (Greenwald/Holley/Moriarty) – Requires background check for private gun sales.

“Requiring a licensee to complete a National Instant Criminal Background Check on the recipient of the handgun, rifle or shotgun is just plain common sense,” Greenwald said. “It’s shocking that we don’t do this already, but with this new law we fix this gaping loophole.”

· A-2758 (Greenwald/Holley/Moriarty) – Codifies regulations defining justifiable need to carry handgun.

“New Jersey’s gun safety laws are among the strongest in the nation and we must keep them that way,’ Greenwald said. “Overturning these unsafe regulations has been a top priority of mine. While I commend Gov. Murphy for doing the right thing to keep our streets safe and ensure laws are enforced as intended, we need to make sure that no future governor can attempt to carelessly weaken our gun safety rules.”

· A-2759 (Greenwald/Murphy/Quijano/Holley/Moriarty) – Prohibits possession of ammunition capable of penetrating body armor.

“As technology advances, so does the threat to our police officers who must brave criminals armed with powerful weapons,” Greenwald said. “Criminalizing the use of this type of ammunition is common sense. Our officers risk their lives daily. Today, we’ve taken a step to better protect them.”

Moriarty Bill to Require Background Checks for Private Gun Sales Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty to improve gun safety by requiring background checks for private gun sales was signed into law today by Gov. Murphy.

The law (A-2757) requires all sales or other transfers of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun to be conducted through a retail dealer licensed under state law or a federal firearms licensee.

The licensee is required to complete a National Instant Criminal Background Check on the recipient of the handgun, rifle or shotgun.

Exceptions under the law include transactions between members of an immediate family, between law enforcement officers, between licensed collectors of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics, and temporary transfers to participate in certain training courses.

Moriarty Bill to Reduce Ammunition Magazine Capacity Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty sponsored to limit gun magazine capacity to 10 rounds was signed into law today by Gov. Murphy.

The law (A-2761) bans firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Magazines capable of holding up to 15 rounds of ammunition currently are legal in New Jersey. California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia all have 10-round limits on ammunition magazines for use with any firearm.

This is quite simple – it can and will save lives. If we can do something reasonable that can save lives, then we should do it.

Specifically, the law revises the definition of a “large capacity ammunition magazine” to include any box, drum, tube, or other container capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The bill also designates a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 10 rounds as a prohibited assault firearm.

Under the law, a person who legally owns a firearm with a fixed magazine capacity holding up to 15 rounds that is incapable of being modified to accommodate less rounds and was purchased on or before the bill’s effective date would be allowed to retain possession of that firearm – provided it is registered with a law enforcement agency.

To register the firearm, a person must produce a valid firearms purchaser identification card, permit to carry a handgun, or permit to purchase a handgun.

The information provided in the registration statement is to include: the name and address of the registrant; the number or numbers on the registrant’s firearms purchaser identification card, permit to carry a handgun, or permit to purchase a handgun; and the make, model, and serial number of the firearm being registered.

An heir or estate of an owner of a registered firearm would have 90 days after the owner’s death to dispose of the firearm.

The law also permits retired police officers authorized to possess and carry a handgun in this state to continue to possess and carry a magazine capable of holding up to 15 rounds.

In addition, the measure exempts from the 10 round limitation those semi-automatic rifles that have an attached tubular magazine and are capable of operating only with .22 caliber rim fire ammunition. This exemption would permit the sale and possession of a popular beginner gun, the Marlin Model 60, often referred to as the Boy Scout gun. These firearms are low caliber and the tubular magazine cannot be quickly reloaded.

The law also exempts large capacity ammunition magazines under the control of a federal firearms license holder and reconfigured to fire blank ammunition for motion pictures, television, or video productions.

The law is effective immediately, but allows for a 180-day grace period to transfer or voluntarily surrender a semi-automatic rifle or magazine that will be unlawful under the law.

A person will also have the option to render a semi-automatic rifle or magazine inoperable or permanently modify a magazine to accept 10 rounds or less.

Under the Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.13:54-1.2), a person may permanently alter a magazine so that it is excluded from the current legal definition of a “large capacity ammunition magazine.” An ammunition magazine, which has been temporarily blocked or modified, as by a piece of wood or a pin, is still considered to be a “large capacity ammunition magazine.”