OPINION: Murphy’s New Gun Laws Will Set Back Mental Health, Do Nothing To Stop Trenton Violence

By Steven J. Uccio

Last Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed six new bills pertaining to firearms into law.  Some are more impactful than others.  The law pertaining to “armor piercing” rounds may be redundant and the one banning private sales will likely go unnoticed by most gun owners.  One needs a firearms license to buy a gun regardless. 

The most dramatic of the six is the reduction in the maximum amount of ammunition a firearm’s magazine can hold from 15 to 10.

That may not sound like a big deal, but for about 14 years New Jersey residents have been told their 15 round magazines were fine.  Some paying hundreds of dollars in custom work to be compliant with state law.  Now people are left scrambling to sell, modify, or destroy their previously legal magazines.  Some will lose a substantial amount of money.  All because someone arbitrarily decided it was time to change a number.

There will be people who are unaware of this change. Casual gun owners who own few firearms, shoot rarely, and don’t pay attention to news like this. Years from now those are the people likely to be arrested and be faced with the possibility of prison time. 

To any gang banger or drug dealer it’s just another line on a paper, another criminal charge among many.

Another law that is of great concern is the law that allows confiscation of firearms for those who have mental issues.  Any mental or medical professional, including nurses and marriage counselors, are now legally required to contact the local law enforcement agency of where a patient lives if they believe that patient is a danger to themselves or others.  The patient may be ordered to surrender their firearms and home may be searched to find them.

Even beyond the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, there are other legal concerns.  To do this would be to punish someone who has not committed a crime.  Our entire legal system is predicated on the idea that you must commit a crime, or take certain steps towards that crime, and then you are tried and punished. 

To punish someone who MIGHT commit a crime is dubious.  Even further beyond the legal issues, is the idea that if someone is having issues in their life, would that person be more likely or less likely to seek help if they knew the possibility of having their firearms taken away existed? People may actually be discouraged from seeking mental health because of this.

The sad part is this latest batch of gun laws does nothing to help the continuous and persistent violence that we see in Trenton. The people who are perpetuating these crimes don’t care about magazine restrictions.  They don’t care about legal transfers of firearms.  They don’t care about how difficult it is to get a permit to carry a firearm in this state. 

They will carry it anyway. 

Trenton politicians will continue to punish lawful gun owners, be ineffective in stopping real criminals, and blame other states and the federal government when their laws don’t work. 

It will always be someone else’s fault.