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New Jersey on Wednesday enacted a half-dozen new gun control laws, tightening its already strict statutes as advocates applauded and critics questioned whether they will achieve their aims.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation in Trenton alongside Democratic legislative leaders and the bills’ sponsors, who moved the legislation shortly after a mass shooting at a Florida high school in February that left 17 dead.
New Jersey joins a list of states, including Florida and Vermont, that have enacted gun control legislation since the shooting, which set off a series of rallies across the country aimed at reducing gun violence through tighter laws.
Alfonso Calderon, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was on stage with Murphy, and both encouraged voters to elect candidates this fall who back “common sense” gun legislation. All U.S. House and one-third of the Senate seats will be on the ballot.
“The majority of America’s youth knows we need this change to survive in our own schools,” Calderon said.
The six measures will:
—Require a mental health professionals to warn law enforcement if a patient threatens serious violence against themselves or others
—Allow for an extreme risk protective order if a court deems someone poses a significant danger to themselves or others. The temporary court order bars the subject from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition.
—Require background checks for private gun sales
—Lower the magazine capacity from 15 rounds to 10, with an exception for a popular .22-caliber rifle.
—Require residents to show a “justifiable need” to get a carry permit.
—Prohibit body-armor-penetrating ammunition.
While the legislation has earned the praise of gun control advocates, including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, who attended the bill-signing wearing bright-red T-shirts, it also has merited scorn from gun rights advocates who say the measure won’t increase safety.
“None of the bills signed today will make anyone safer,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, said in a statement. He said lawmakers have limited residents’ ability to defend themselves while missing an opportunity to make schools safer and prevent those with mental health issues from acquiring firearms in the first place.
The group has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the limit of 10 rounds, claiming it would be ignored by “criminals and madmen.”
Hopewell Valley High School sophomores Ethan Block and Alex Franzino have been active in organizing gun control events in the region and attended the Wednesday event wearing orange shirts with “Students Demand Action” printed on them. They said they were encouraged to become active in the issue because of Parkland.
“Don’t be afraid to use your voice,” Franzino said.
Murphy, who succeeded term-limited Republican Chris Christie this year, campaigned on the promise to strengthen the state’s laws. Current state law bans assault weapons, limits magazine clip sizes and requires permits to carry a concealed weapon.