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After another mass shooting, New Jersey tightens its gun laws


By Ali Watkins


A sweeping package of legislation will make it more difficult to obtain a handgun license and buy high-capacity rifles in New Jersey, part of a patchwork effort by states with strict gun laws to work around a Supreme Court ruling aimed at dismantling them.


On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the latest in what is expected to be a rush of state-level statutes intended to tighten firearm restrictions after last month’s Supreme Court ruling, which overturned a New York state law that restricted how and where residents could carry handguns.


The New Jersey measures, passed Wednesday, will require training to obtain a gun license, outlaw .50-caliber weapons, and require handgun owners to register any firearms purchased out of state.


“They are common sense. They are smart. They live up to our New Jersey values,” Murphy, a Democrat, said of the legislation in an address at Metuchen Town Hall on Tuesday. “These are not going to be our last words on gun safety.”


The legislation comes on the heels of a spate of gruesome mass shootings, including one as recently as the July 4 holiday, when a gunman in Highland Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, opened fire into a crowded Independence Day parade, killing seven.


The Supreme Court ruling last month sent states with strict firearms laws like New York’s into a scramble to strengthen their own statutes before they are challenged under the new precedent. At the time, Murphy called the Supreme Court ruling a “mockery.”


The New Jersey bill is part of a collaborative effort between legislatures in New York and New Jersey to coordinate gun-related legislation tailored to skirt the Supreme Court’s ruling. Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York announced the state’s own version, which contained similar language and restrictions as the New Jersey bill; New York state legislators passed the bill in a special session Thursday and Friday.

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