ASSEMBLY, No. 785



STATE OF NEW JERSEY

208th LEGISLATURE



PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 1998 SESSION





Sponsored by:

Assemblyman GARY W. STUHLTRAGER

District 3 (Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester)









SYNOPSIS

Modifies civil liability provisions of law governing assault firearms.



CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.



An Act concerning the civil liability of owners of assault firearms and amending N.J.S.2C:58-5 and P.L.1990, c.32.



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



1. N.J.S.2C:58-5 is amended to read as follows:

2C:58-5. Licenses to Possess and Carry Machine Guns and Assault Firearms.

a. Any person who desires to purchase, possess and carry a machine gun or assault firearm in this State may apply for a license to do so by filing in the Superior Court in the county in which he resides, or conducts his business if a nonresident, a written application setting forth in detail his reasons for desiring such a license. The Superior Court shall refer the application to the county prosecutor for investigation and recommendation. A copy of the prosecutor's report, together with a copy of the notice of the hearing on the application, shall be served upon the superintendent and the chief police officer of every municipality in which the applicant intends to carry the machine gun or assault firearm, unless, for good cause shown, the court orders notice to be given wholly or in part by publication.

b. No license shall be issued to any person who would not qualify for a permit to carry a handgun under section 2C:58-4, and no license shall be issued unless the court finds that the public safety and welfare so require. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the court in granting or denying an application, including the applicant, the prosecutor, or any law enforcement officer entitled to notice under subsection a. who appeared in opposition to the application, may appeal said decision in accordance with law and the rules governing the courts of this State.

c. Upon the issuance of any license under this section, true copies of such license shall be filed with the superintendent and the chief police officer of the municipality where the licensee resides or has his place of business.

d. In issuing any license under this section, the court shall attach thereto such conditions and limitations as it deems to be in the public interest. Unless otherwise provided by court order at the time of issuance, each license shall expire 1 year from the date of issuance, and may be renewed in the same manner and under the same conditions as apply to original applications.

e. Any license may be revoked by the Superior Court, after a hearing upon notice to the holder thereof, if the court finds that the holder is no longer qualified for the issuance of such a license or that revocation is necessary for the public safety and welfare. Any citizen may apply to the court for revocation of a license issued under this section.

f. A filing fee of $75.00 shall be required for each application filed pursuant to the provisions of this section. Of this filing fee, $25.00 shall be forwarded to the State Treasury for deposit in the account used by the Violent Crimes Compensation Board in satisfying claims and for related administrative costs pursuant to the provisions of the "Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c.317 (C.52:4B-1 et seq.).

g. Any license granted pursuant to the provisions of this section shall expire two years from the date of issuance and may be renewed in the same manner and under the same conditions as apply to original applications. If the holder of a license dies, the holder's heirs or estate shall have 90 days to dispose of that firearm as provided in section 12 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-13).

h. If an assault firearm licensed pursuant to the provisions of this section is used in the commission of a crime, the holder of the license for that assault firearm [shall] may be civilly liable for any damages resulting from that crime if it is determined that the actions of the holder of the license with regard to the firearm were negligent. [The liability imposed by this subsection shall not apply if the assault firearm used in the commission of the crime was stolen and the license holder reported the theft of the firearm to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of the license holder's knowledge of the theft.]

i. Nothing in P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et. al.) shall be construed to abridge any exemptions provided under N.J.S.2C:39-6.

(cf: P.L.1990, c.32, s.9)



2. Section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12) is amended to read as follows:

11. a. Within 90 days of the effective date of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et. al.), the Attorney General shall promulgate a list by trade name of any assault firearm which the Attorney General determines is an assault firearm which is used for legitimate target-shooting purposes. This list shall include, but need not be limited to, the Colt AR-15 and any other assault firearm used in competitive shooting matches sanctioned by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship of the United States Department of the Army.

b. The owner of an assault firearm purchased on or before May 1, 1990 which is on the list of assault firearms determined by the Attorney General to be legitimate for target-shooting purposes shall have one year from the effective date of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et. al.) to register that firearm. In order to register an assault firearm, the owner shall:

(1) Complete an assault firearm registration statement, in the form to be prescribed by the Superintendent of the State Police;

(2) Pay a registration fee of $50.00 per each assault firearm;

(3) Produce for inspection a valid firearms purchaser identification card, a valid permit to carry handguns, or a copy of the permit to purchase a handgun which was used to purchase the assault firearm which is being registered; and

(4) Submit valid proof that the person is a member of a rifle or pistol club in existence prior to the effective date of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et al.).

Membership in a rifle or pistol club shall not be considered valid unless the person joined the club no later than 210 days after the effective date of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et. al.) and unless the rifle or pistol club files its charter with the Superintendent no later than 180 days following the effective date of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et. al.). The rifle or pistol club charter shall contain the name and address of the club's headquarters and the name of the club's officers.

The information to be provided in the registration statement shall include, but shall not be limited to: the name and address of the registrant; the number or numbers on the registrant's firearms purchaser identification card, permit to carry handguns, or permit to purchase a handgun; the name, address, and telephone number of the rifle or pistol club in which the registrant is a member; and the make, model, and serial number of the assault firearm being registered. Each registration statement shall be signed by the registrant, and the signature shall constitute a representation of the accuracy of the information contained in the registration statement.

c. For an applicant who resides in a municipality with an organized full-time police department, the registration shall take place at the main office of the police department. For all other applicants, the registration shall take place at any State Police station.

d. Within 60 days of the effective date of P.L. 1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12 et. al.), the Superintendent shall prepare the form of registration statement as described in subsection b. of this section and shall provide a suitable supply of statements to each organized full-time municipal police department and each State Police station.

e. One copy of the completed assault firearms registration statement shall be returned to the registrant, a second copy shall be sent to the Superintendent, and, if the registration takes place at a municipal police department, a third copy shall be retained by that municipal police department.

f. If the owner of an assault firearm which has been registered pursuant to this section dies, the owner's heirs or estate shall have 90 days to dispose of that firearm in accordance with section 12 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-13).

g. If an assault firearm registered pursuant to the provisions of this section is used in the commission of a crime, the registrant of that assault firearm [shall] may be civilly liable for any damages resulting from that crime if it is determined that the actions of the registrant with regard to the firearm were negligent. [The liability imposed by this subsection shall not apply if the assault firearm used in the commission of the crime was stolen and the registrant reported the theft of the firearm to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of the registrant's knowledge of the theft.]

h. Of the registration fee required pursuant to subsection b. of this section, $20.00 shall be forwarded to the State Treasury for deposit in the account used by the Violent Crimes Compensation Board in satisfying claims and for related administrative costs pursuant to the provisions of the "Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c.317 (C.52:4B-1 et seq.).

(cf: P.L.1990, c.32, s.11)



3. This act shall take effect immediately.





STATEMENT



Under the provisions of P.L.1990, c.32, persons who are licensed to possess an assault firearm or who register an assault firearm are strictly liable for any damages which may result if that firearm is used in the commission of a crime. This bill would provide that owners of assault firearms could be held civilly liable for damages resulting from the use of that firearm in the commission of a crime only if it can be shown that the owner's actions were negligent. The bill amends subsection h. of N.J.S.2C:58-5 and subsection g. of section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12).