Murphy signs gun legislation measure after Illinois shooting

County hopeful bills will improve safety in South Jersey

“We take great pride in making Camden City and county as safe as can be,” said Commissioner Lou Cappelli when discussing new gun control bills signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this month. “We have no more time to waste when it comes to protecting innocent residents from these senseless acts of violence.”

Immediately following the deadly shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4,  Gov. Phil Murphy signed a series of gun control bills to stem what is described  as an “epidemic of gun violence in the state,” which already had some of the toughest gun laws in the country..

According to the governor’s office, the move “reaffirmed [Murphy’s] commitment”  to reduce gun violence in New Jersey when he signed seven comprehensive measures, six of which were part of the Gun Safety 3.0 package he introduced to the legislature last April 2021 and has “repeatedly championed” since.

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Here is some of what the gun safety reform bills will do:

  • Allow the attorney general to bring cause of action for certain public nuisance violations arising from sale or marketing of firearms.
  • Require firearm owners who become New Jersey residents to obtain a firearm purchaser identification card and register handguns acquired out of state.
  • Upgrade certain crimes related to manufacturing firearms from third to second degree.
  • Regulate the sale of handgun ammunition and develop a system of electronic reporting of handgun ammunition sales.

While Camden County – Camden City in particular – has made strides in stemming gun violence over the last decade, Chief Commissioner Lou Capelli thinks gun safety is an issue that can never be taken lightly and the goal should be to get more illegal weapons off the streets

“Members of [our police force] frequently confiscate guns, illegal guns, from individuals who should not have them in the first place,” he said. “Almost each and every day, our officers are confiscating guns and putting their lives on the line in order to protect the public. 

“Each one of those confiscations could result in a horrific event …” Cappelli added, emphasizing that many of the weapons confiscated in the county come from other states.

“About 75 percent of the weapons confiscated by metro police are guns that came from states other than New Jersey,” he explained. “States that have much more lax laws regarding gun safety.”

 A major focus of the governor’s legislation is to ensure that legal, law-abiding gun owners do not have to sacrifice their rights, a point echoed by Camden County Public Affairs Director Dan Keashen.

“I don’t think legal gun owners, someone that goes hunting on a regular basis, I don’t think these bills that the governor signed into law impact them,” he noted. “The vast majority of these bills are aimed at trying to address the carnage that we have been watching, whether it’s school shootings or mass casualty events.”  

Keashen also highlighted the issue of ghost guns, untraceable weapons without serial numbers that can be bought online. Of the 332 firearms taken off the streets of Camden last year, 20 percent were ghost guns.

“The growth and influx of ghost guns is also going to be an ongoing challenge,”  Keashen insisted. “[However], the main idea here is that we are very happy with the steps the governor has taken.” 

Both Keashen and Cappelli believe the new bills will empower the state to keep  Camden County a safer and more attractive destination for people in South Jersey.

“We take great pride in making Camden City and county as safe as can be,”  Cappelli said.

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