ASSEMBLY, No. 552

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

208th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 1998 SESSION



Sponsored by:

Assemblyman DAVID C. RUSSO

District 40 (Bergen and Passaic)

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Holzapfel







SYNOPSIS

Creates "gun free" school areas.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

(Sponsorship Updated As Of: 6/25/1999)

An Act concerning certain crimes committed with firearms and amending N.J.S.2C:39-5 and N.J.S.2C:39-6.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. N.J.S.2C:39-5 is amended to read as follows:

2C:39-5. Unlawful Possession of Weapons.

a. Machine guns. Any person who knowingly has in his possession a machine gun or any instrument or device adaptable for use as a machine gun, without being licensed to do so as provided in N.J.S.2C:58-5, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

b. Handguns. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including any antique handgun without first having obtained a permit to carry the same as provided in N.J.S.2C:58-4, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

c. Rifles and shotguns. (1) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any rifle or shotgun without having first obtained a firearms purchaser identification card in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.2C:58-3, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

(2) Unless otherwise permitted by law, any person who knowingly has in his possession any loaded rifle or shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

d. Other weapons. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

e. Firearms or other weapons in educational institutions.

(1) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm while in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution used for school purposes, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution and irrespective of the fact that he possesses a valid permit to carry the firearm, or if a permit is not required by law, the appropriate valid firearms purchaser identification card or valid permit to purchase a handgun, is guilty of a crime of the third degree[, irrespective of whether he possesses a valid permit to carry the firearm or a valid firearms purchaser identification card].

(2) Any person who knowingly possesses any weapon enumerated in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection r. of N.J.S.2C:39-1 or any components which can readily be assembled into a firearm or other weapon enumerated in subsection r. of N.J.S.2C:39-1 or any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful use as it may have, while in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

(3) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm while in or upon any part of the building or grounds owned or leased by an school, college, university or other educational institution and used for school purposes, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution and without possessing a valid permit to carry the firearm or, if a permit to carry is not required by law, the appropriate valid firearms purchaser identification card or valid permit to purchase a handgun, is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

(4) Any person who (a) knowingly has in his possession any firearm while in or within 1,000 feet from the outermost boundaries of buildings or grounds owned or leased by any school, college, university or other educational institution and used for school purposes, or while on any school bus, and (b) possesses the firearm in violation of any law of this State is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

(5) It shall not be a defense to a prosecution for a violation of this subsection that the actor was unaware that the prohibited possession took place while in or upon any part of the buildings of any school, college, university or other educational institution or within 1,000 feet from school property. It shall not be a defense to a prosecution under this subsection that no juveniles or students were present on the school property at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.

(6) In a prosecution under this subsection, a map produced or reproduced by any municipal or county engineer for the purpose of depicting the location and boundaries of the buildings or grounds owned by or leased to any school, school board, college, university or other educational institution and used for school purposes, or within 1,000 feet from the outermost boundaries of those buildings or grounds, or a true copy of such a map, shall be admissible upon proper authentication, and shall constitute prima facie evidence of the location and boundaries of those areas, provided that the governing body of the municipality or county has adopted a resolution or ordinance approving the map as the official finding and record of the location and boundaries of those areas. Any map approved pursuant to this section may be changed from time to time by the governing body of the municipality or county. The original of every map approved or revised pursuant to this section, or a true copy thereof, shall be filed with the clerk of the municipality or county, and shall be maintained as an official record of the municipality or county. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to preclude the prosecution from introducing or relying upon any other evidence or testimony to establish any element of this offense; nor shall this section be construed to preclude the use or admissibility of any map or diagram other than one which has been approved by the governing body of a municipality or county, provided that the map or diagram is otherwise admissible pursuant to the Rules of Evidence.

f. Assault firearms. Any person who knowingly has in his possession an assault firearm is guilty of a crime of the third degree except if the assault firearm is licensed pursuant to N.J.S.2C:58-5; registered pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12) or rendered inoperable pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-13).

g. The temporary possession of a handgun, rifle or shotgun by a person receiving, possessing, carrying or using the handgun, rifle, or shotgun under the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.74 (C.2C:58-3.1) shall not be considered unlawful possession under the provisions of subsection b. or c. of this section.

(cf: P.L.1992, c.94, s.1)

2. N.J.S.2C:39-6 is amended to read as follows:

2C:39-6. a. Provided a person complies with the requirements of subsection j. of this section, N.J.S.2C:39-5 does not apply to:

(1) Members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of the National Guard while actually on duty, or while traveling between places of duty and carrying authorized weapons in the manner prescribed by the appropriate military authorities;

(2) Federal law enforcement officers, and any other federal officers and employees required to carry firearms in the performance of their official duties;

(3) Members of the State Police and, under conditions prescribed by the superintendent, members of the Marine Law Enforcement Bureau of the Division of State Police;

(4) A sheriff, undersheriff, sheriff's officer, county prosecutor, assistant prosecutor, prosecutor's detective or investigator, deputy attorney general or State investigator employed by the Division of Criminal Justice of the Department of Law and Public Safety, investigator employed by the State Commission of Investigation, inspector of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Bureau of the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety authorized to carry such weapons by the Superintendent of State Police, State park ranger, or State conservation officer;

(5) A prison or jail warden of any penal institution in this State or his deputies, or an employee of the Department of Corrections engaged in the interstate transportation of convicted offenders, while in the performance of his duties, and when required to possess the weapon by his superior officer, or a correction officer or keeper of a penal institution in this State at all times while in the State of New Jersey, provided he annually passes an examination approved by the superintendent testing his proficiency in the handling of firearms;

(6) A civilian employee of the United States Government under the supervision of the commanding officer of any post, camp, station, base or other military or naval installation located in this State who is required, in the performance of his official duties, to carry firearms, and who is authorized to carry such firearms by said commanding officer, while in the actual performance of his official duties;

(7) (a) A regularly employed member, including a detective, of the police department of any county or municipality, or of any State, interstate, municipal or county park police force or boulevard police force, at all times while in the State of New Jersey;

(b) A special law enforcement officer authorized to carry a weapon as provided in subsection b. of section 7 of P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.14);

(c) An airport security officer or a special law enforcement officer appointed by the governing body of any county or municipality, except as provided in subsection b. of this section, or by the commission, board or other body having control of a county park or airport or boulevard police force, while engaged in the actual performance of his official duties and when specifically authorized by the governing body to carry weapons; or

(8) A full-time, paid member of a paid or part-paid fire department or force of any municipality who is assigned full-time or part-time to an arson investigation unit created pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1981, c.409 (C.40A:14-7.1) or to the county arson investigation unit in the county prosecutor's office, while either engaged in the actual performance of arson investigation duties or while actually on call to perform arson investigation duties and when specifically authorized by the governing body or the county prosecutor, as the case may be, to carry weapons. Prior to being permitted to carry a firearm, such a member shall take and successfully complete a firearms training course administered by the Police Training Commission pursuant to P.L.1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-66 et seq.), and shall annually qualify in the use of a revolver or similar weapon prior to being permitted to carry a firearm;

(9) A juvenile corrections officer in the employment of the Juvenile Justice Commission established pursuant to section 2 of P.L. 1995, c. 284 (C.52:17B-170) subject to the regulations promulgated by the commission.

b. Subsections a., b. and c., and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to:

(1) A law enforcement officer employed by a governmental agency outside of the State of New Jersey while actually engaged in his official duties, provided, however, that he has first notified the superintendent or the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality or the prosecutor of the county in which he is engaged; or

(2) A licensed dealer in firearms and his registered employees during the course of their normal business while traveling to and from their place of business and other places for the purpose of demonstration, exhibition or delivery in connection with a sale, provided, however, that the weapon is carried in the manner specified in subsection g. of this section.

c. Provided a person complies with the requirements of subsection j. of this section, subsections b. and c., and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to:

(1) A special agent of the Division of Taxation who has passed an examination in an approved police training program testing proficiency in the handling of any firearm which he may be required to carry, while in the actual performance of his official duties and while going to or from his place of duty, or any other police officer, while in the actual performance of his official duties;

(2) A State deputy conservation officer or a full-time employee of the Division of Parks and Forestry having the power of arrest and authorized to carry weapons, while in the actual performance of his official duties;

(3) (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1986, c.150.)

(4) A court attendant serving as such under appointment by the sheriff of the county or by the judge of any municipal court or other court of this State, while in the actual performance of his official duties;

(5) A guard in the employ of any railway express company, banking or building and loan or savings and loan institution of this State, while in the actual performance of his official duties;

(6) A member of a legally recognized military organization while actually under orders or while going to or from the prescribed place of meeting and carrying the weapons prescribed for drill, exercise or parade;

(7) An officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, while in the actual performance of his duties;

(8) An employee of a public utilities corporation actually engaged in the transportation of explosives;

(9) A railway policeman, except a transit police officer of the New Jersey Transit Police Department, at all times while in the State of New Jersey, provided that he has passed an approved police academy training program consisting of at least 280 hours. The training program shall include, but need not be limited to, the handling of firearms, community relations, and juvenile relations;

(10) A campus police officer appointed under P.L.1970, c.211 (C.18A:6-4.2 et seq.) at all times. Prior to being permitted to carry a firearm, a campus police officer shall take and successfully complete a firearms training course administered by the Police Training Commission, pursuant to P.L.1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-66 et seq.), and shall annually qualify in the use of a revolver or similar weapon prior to being permitted to carry a firearm;

(11) A person who has not been convicted of a crime under the laws of this State or under the laws of another state or the United States, and who is employed as a full-time security guard for a nuclear power plant under the license of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while in the actual performance of his official duties;

(12) A transit police officer of the New Jersey Transit Police Department, at all times while in the State of New Jersey, provided the officer has satisfied the training requirements of the Police Training Commission, pursuant to subsection c. of section 2 of P.L.1989, c.291 (C.27:25-15.1);

(13) A parole officer employed by the Bureau of Parole in the Department of Corrections at all times. Prior to being permitted to carry a firearm, a parole officer shall take and successfully complete a basic course for regular police officer training administered by the Police Training Commission, pursuant to P.L. 1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-66 et seq.), and shall annually qualify in the use of a revolver or similar weapon prior to being permitted to carry a firearm;

(14) A Human Services police officer at all times while in the State of New Jersey, as authorized by the Commissioner of Human Services; or

(15) A person or employee of any person who, pursuant to and as required by a contract with a governmental entity, supervises or transports person charged with or convicted of an offense.

d. (1) Subsections c. and d., and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to antique firearms, provided that such antique firearms are unloaded or are being fired for the purposes of exhibition or demonstration at an authorized target range or in such other manner as has been approved in writing by the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality in which the exhibition or demonstration is held, or if not held on property under the control of a particular municipality, the superintendent.

(2) Subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-3 and subsection d. and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to an antique cannon that is capable of being fired but that is unloaded and immobile, provided that the antique cannon is possessed by (a) a scholastic institution, a museum, a municipality, a county or the State, or (b) a person who obtained a firearms purchaser identification card as specified in N.J.S.2C:58-3.

(3) Subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-3 and subsection d. and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to an unloaded antique cannon that is being transported by one eligible to possess it, in compliance with regulations the superintendent may promulgate, between its permanent location and place of purchase or repair.

(4) Subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-3 and subsection d. and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to antique cannons that are being loaded or fired by one eligible to possess an antique cannon, for purposes of exhibition or demonstration at an authorized target range or in the manner as has been approved in writing by the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality in which the exhibition or demonstration is held, or if not held on property under the control of a particular municipality, the superintendent, provided that performer has given at least 30 days' notice to the superintendent.

(5) Subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-3 and subsection d. and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 do not apply to the transportation of unloaded antique cannons directly to or from exhibitions or demonstrations authorized under paragraph (4) of subsection d. of this section, provided that the transportation is in compliance with safety regulations the superintendent may promulgate. Nor do those subsections apply to transportation directly to or from exhibitions or demonstrations authorized under the law of another jurisdiction, provided that the superintendent has been given 30 days' notice and that the transportation is in compliance with safety regulations the superintendent may promulgate.

e. Nothing in subsections b., c. and d. and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 shall be construed to prevent a person keeping or carrying about his place of business, residence, premises or other land owned or possessed by him, any firearm, or from carrying the same, in the manner specified in subsection g. of this section, from any place of purchase to his residence or place of business, between his dwelling and his place of business, between one place of business or residence and another when moving, or between his dwelling or place of business and place where such firearms are repaired, for the purpose of repair. For the purposes of this section, a place of business shall be deemed to be a fixed location.

f. Nothing in subsections b., c. and d. and paragraph (4) of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 shall be construed to prevent:

(1) A member of any rifle or pistol club organized in accordance with the rules prescribed by the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, in going to or from a place of target practice, carrying such firearms as are necessary for said target practice, provided that the club has filed a copy of its charter with the superintendent and annually submits a list of its members to the superintendent and provided further that the firearms are carried in the manner specified in subsection g. of this section;

(2) A person carrying a firearm or knife in the woods or fields or upon the waters of this State for the purpose of hunting, target practice or fishing, provided that the firearm or knife is legal and appropriate for hunting or fishing purposes in this State and he has in his possession a valid hunting license, or, with respect to fresh water fishing, a valid fishing license;

(3) A person transporting any firearm or knife while traveling:

(a) Directly to or from any place for the purpose of hunting or fishing, provided the person has in his possession a valid hunting or fishing license; or

(b) Directly to or from any target range, or other authorized place for the purpose of practice, match, target, trap or skeet shooting exhibitions, provided in all cases that during the course of the travel all firearms are carried in the manner specified in subsection g. of this section and the person has complied with all the provisions and requirements of Title 23 of the Revised Statutes and any amendments thereto and all rules and regulations promulgated thereunder; or

(c) In the case of a firearm, directly to or from any exhibition or display of firearms which is sponsored by any law enforcement agency, any rifle or pistol club, or any firearms collectors club, for the purpose of displaying the firearms to the public or to the members of the organization or club, provided, however, that not less than 30 days prior to the exhibition or display, notice of the exhibition or display shall be given to the Superintendent of the State Police by the sponsoring organization or club, and the sponsor has complied with such reasonable safety regulations as the superintendent may promulgate. Any firearms transported pursuant to this section shall be transported in the manner specified in subsection g. of this section;

(4) A person from keeping or carrying about a private or commercial aircraft or any boat, or from transporting to or from such vessel for the purpose of installation or repair a visual distress signalling device approved by the United States Coast Guard.

g. All weapons being transported under paragraph (2) of subsection b., subsection e., or paragraph (1) or (3) of subsection f. of this section shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.

h. Nothing in subsection d. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 shall be construed to prevent any employee of a public utility, as defined in R.S.48:2-13, doing business in this State or any United States Postal Service employee, while in the actual performance of duties which specifically require regular and frequent visits to private premises, from possessing, carrying or using any device which projects, releases or emits any substance specified as being noninjurious to canines or other animals by the Commissioner of Health and which immobilizes only on a temporary basis and produces only temporary physical discomfort through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air for the sole purpose of repelling canine or other animal attacks.

The device shall be used solely to repel only those canine or other animal attacks when the canines or other animals are not restrained in a fashion sufficient to allow the employee to properly perform his duties.

Any device used pursuant to this act shall be selected from a list of products, which consist of active and inert ingredients, permitted by the Commissioner of Health.

i. Nothing in N.J.S.2C:39-5 shall be construed to prevent any person who is 18 years of age or older and who has not been convicted of a felony, from possession for the purpose of personal self-defense of one pocket-sized device which contains and releases not more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance not ordinarily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury, but rather, is intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air. Any person in possession of any device in violation of this subsection shall be deemed and adjudged to be a disorderly person, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100.00.

j. A person shall qualify for an exemption from the provisions of N.J.S.2C:39-5, as specified under subsections a. and c. of this section, if the person has satisfactorily completed a firearms training course approved by the Police Training Commission.

Such exempt person shall not possess or carry a firearm until the person has satisfactorily completed a firearms training course and shall annually qualify in the use of a revolver or similar weapon. For purposes of this subsection, a "firearms training course" means a course of instruction in the safe use, maintenance and storage of firearms which is approved by the Police Training Commission. The commission shall approve a firearms training course if the requirements of the course are substantially equivalent to the requirements for firearms training provided by police training courses which are certified under section 6 of P.L.1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-71). A person who is specified in paragraph (1), (2), (3) or (6) of subsection a. of this section shall be exempt from the requirements of this subsection.

k. Nothing in subsection d. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 shall be construed to prevent any financial institution, or any duly authorized personnel of the institution, from possessing, carrying or using for the protection of money or property, any device which projects, releases or emits tear gas or other substances intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or temporary identification.

(cf: P.L.1995, c.280, s.21)

3. This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

This bill would increase the penalties for possession of a firearm or handgun in educational institutions under certain circumstances. Specifically, the bill makes it a crime of the third degree for any person to knowingly possess a firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution used for school purposes without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution and irrespective of the fact that the person possesses a valid permit to carry a firearm, or a valid firearms purchaser identification card if a permit is not required, or a valid permit to purchase a handgun. The current provision of the law which makes it a crime of the fourth degree to knowingly possess any weapons on school property would remain unchanged.

In addition, the bill would make it a crime of the second degree for any person to knowingly possess any firearm on any part of the buildings or grounds owned or leased by any school, college, university or other educational institution and used for school purposes, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution and without possessing a valid permit to carry, or valid a purchaser identification card if a permit is not required, or a valid permit to purchase a handgun. The bill would also make it a crime of the second degree for any person to knowingly possess any firearm while in or within 1,000 feet from the outermost boundaries of buildings or grounds owned or leased by any school, college, university or other educational, institution and used for school purposes, or while on any school bus and to possess the firearm in violation of any law. It would not be a defense to a prosecution for a violation of this section if the actor was unaware that he was on any part of the buildings of any school, college, university or other educational institution or within 1,000 feet from school property.

In addition, the bill would amend N.J.S.2C:39-6 to clarify that a person who is currently exempt from the provisions of N.J.S.2C:39-5, those who lawfully possess a firearm, would also be exempt under the "gun free" school area law.