Legislation honoring slain Jersey City Police Detective Marc DiNardo, sponsored by Hudson County Assemblymen Charles Mainor (D-31) and Raj Mukherji (D-33), passed the New Jersey Assembly on a 79-0 vote and is now headed to the Senate.
The bill (A-823) increases the penalties for defacing a firearm and for acquiring or possessing a defaced firearm.
Under the bill, the penalty for defacing a firearm is upgraded from a third degree crime to a second degree crime, which is punishable for a term of imprisonment between five and 10 years; a fine of up to $150,000; or both. The penalty for acquiring or possessing a defaced firearm is upgraded from a crime of the fourth degree to a crime of the third degree, which is punishable for a term of imprisonment between three and five years; a fine of up to $15,000; or both.
“This bill does nothing to infringe the rights of law abiding gun owners,â€ said Mukherji. â€œBy upgrading these penalties, this bill sends a clear message to criminals – who are the only people with any use for a defaced or stolen firearm – that they should be ready to do hard time if they use such a firearm to put our law enforcement officers in harm’s way.â€
Alexander Roubian, Vice President of New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said his group is â€œalways in favor of legislation that clearly defines between law-abiding gun owners and criminals. Only after the efforts of our members did the Law and Public Safety Committee unanimously amend A823 to correct this issue.â€
He added â€œWe hope that moving forward the New Jersey legislature will address the abundance of flawed laws that subject honest and law-abiding gun owners like Shaneen Allen, a single mother who had no criminal record or intent, to lengthy prison sentences simply because they made an honest mistake.â€
The bill would also make it a first degree crime to use a defaced or stolen firearm to cause serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, and a second degree crime to use a defaced or stolen firearm to cause bodily injury to a law enforcement officer.
“Police officers like Dt. DiNardo put their lives on the line every day to protect others,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Police work is inherently risky. This bill hopes to reduce that risk and prevent officers from becoming targets by criminalizing the use of these firearms to harm police officers, and enhancing the penalties for defacing or possessing a defaced firearm.”