SENATE, No. 106



STATE OF NEW JERSEY

208th LEGISLATURE



PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 1998 SESSION





Sponsored by:

Senator RICHARD J. CODEY

District 27 (Essex)

Senator JOHN H. ADLER

District 6 (Camden)









SYNOPSIS

Prohibits possession of certain bullets made with polymers.



CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.



. An Act concerning certain firearms ammunition, and amending N.J.S.2C:39-3.



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



1. N.J.S.2C:39-3 is amended to read as follows:

2C:39-3. Prohibited Weapons and Devices.

a. Destructive devices. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any destructive device is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

b. Sawed-off shotguns. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any sawed-off shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

c. Silencers. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm silencer is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

d. Defaced firearms. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm which has been defaced, except an antique firearm, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

e. Certain weapons. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckle, sandclub, slingshot, cestus or similar leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades embedded in wood, ballistic knife, without any explainable lawful purpose, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

f. Dum-dum or body armor penetrating bullets. (1) Any person, other than a law enforcement officer or persons engaged in activities pursuant to subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-6, who knowingly has in his possession any hollow nose or dum-dum bullet, or (2) any person, other than a collector of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics as defined in Title 18, United States Code, section 921 (a) (13) and has in his possession a valid Collector of Curios and Relics License issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who knowingly has in his possession any body armor breaching or penetrating ammunition, which means: (a) ammunition primarily designed for use in a handgun, and (b) which is comprised of a bullet whose core or jacket, if the jacket is thicker than .025 of an inch, is made of tungsten carbide, or hard bronze, or other material which is harder than a rating of 72 or greater on the Rockwell B. Hardness Scale, and (c) is therefore capable of breaching or penetrating body armor, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. For purposes of this [section] paragraph, a collector may possess not more than three examples of each distinctive variation of the ammunition described above. A distinctive variation includes a different head stamp, composition, design, or color.

(3) Any person, other than a law enforcement officer, who knowingly has in his possession polymer core ammunition, which means: ammunition (a) primarily designed for use in a handgun, and (b) comprised of a metal jacketed bullet encapsulating a polymer core or containing a polymer nose which is designed and constructed to fragment as it impacts, and (c) which may be formulated or structured to breach or penetrate body armor, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

(4) Any person, other than a law enforcement officer, who knowingly has in his possession ammunition with a nonmetallic or synthetic core, which means: ammunition (a) primarily designed for use in a hand gun, and (b) comprised of a metal jacketed bullet encapsulating a nonmetallic or synthetic core or containing a nonmetallic or synthetic nose which is designed and constructed to fragment as it impacts, and (c) which may be formulated or structured to breach or penetrate body armor, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

g. Exceptions. (1) Nothing in subsection a., b., c., d., e., f., j. or k. of this section shall apply to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard, or except as otherwise provided, to any law enforcement officer while actually on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty, provided that his possession of the prohibited weapon or device has been duly authorized under the applicable laws, regulations or military or law enforcement orders. Nothing in subsection h. of this section shall apply to any law enforcement officer who is exempted from the provisions of that subsection by the Attorney General. Nothing in this section shall apply to the possession of any weapon or device by a law enforcement officer who has confiscated, seized or otherwise taken possession of said weapon or device as evidence of the commission of a crime or because he believed it to be possessed illegally by the person from whom it was taken, provided that said law enforcement officer promptly notifies his superiors of his possession of such prohibited weapon or device.

(2) Nothing in subsection f. (1) shall be construed to prevent a person from keeping such ammunition at his dwelling, premises or other land owned or possessed by him, or from carrying such ammunition from the place of purchase to said dwelling or land, nor shall subsection f. (1) be construed to prevent any licensed retail or wholesale firearms dealer from possessing such ammunition at its licensed premises, provided that the seller of any such ammunition shall maintain a record of the name, age and place of residence of any purchaser who is not a licensed dealer, together with the date of sale and quantity of ammunition sold.

(3) Nothing in paragraph (2) of subsection f. or in subsection j. shall be construed to prevent any licensed retail or wholesale firearms dealer from possessing that ammunition or large capacity ammunition magazine at its licensed premises for sale or disposition to another licensed dealer, the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard, or to a law enforcement agency, provided that the seller maintains a record of any sale or disposition to a law enforcement agency. The record shall include the name of the purchasing agency, together with written authorization of the chief of police or highest ranking official of the agency, the name and rank of the purchasing law enforcement officer, if applicable, and the date, time and amount of ammunition sold or otherwise disposed. A copy of this record shall be forwarded by the seller to the Superintendent of the Division of State Police within 48 hours of the sale or disposition.

(4) Nothing in subsection a. of this section shall be construed to apply to antique cannons as exempted in subsection d. of N.J.S.2C:39-6.

h. Stun guns. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any stun gun is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

i. Nothing in subsection e. of this section shall be construed to prevent any guard in the employ of a private security company, who is licensed to carry a firearm, from the possession of a nightstick when in the actual performance of his official duties, provided that he has satisfactorily completed a training course approved by the Police Training Commission in the use of a nightstick.

j. Any person who knowingly has in his possession a large capacity ammunition magazine is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree unless the person has registered an assault firearm pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12) and the magazine is maintained and used in connection with participation in competitive shooting matches sanctioned by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship of the United States Department of the Army.

k. Handcuffs. Any person who knowingly has in his possession handcuffs as defined in P.L.1991, c.437 (C.2C:39-9.2), under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as handcuffs may have, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. A law enforcement officer shall confiscate handcuffs possessed in violation of the law.

(cf: P.L.1991, c.437, s.1)



2. This act shall take effect immediately.





STATEMENT



This bill would make the possession of polymer core bullets a crime of the third degree.

Polymer core bullets are a new and highly destructive type of ammunition. Made with carbon-based plastic materials known as polymers, they are designed to disintegrate upon impact, sending thousands of razor-like pieces into the victim's body. The resulting wounds are massive, devastating, and, in most instances, deadly.

These bullets can be formulated and constructed with a capacity to breach or penetrate body armor and, as a result, they pose a special threat to the law enforcement community.

Because of their polymer composition, these bullets do not appear to be subject to the prohibitions set forth in current State and federal law. Under State and federal law, hollow nose or dum-dum bullets are prohibited, as are bullets which are teflon-coated or which have specially hardened metal jackets or cores.

Under the provisions of the bill, law enforcement officers may legally possess these new polymer bullets, but it is important to note that no licensed retail or wholesale dealers would be permitted to sell them. This sales prohibition is more stringent than that currently authorized by the statutes for other types of prohibited ammunition. The law, for example, currently permits licensed retail and wholesale dealers, under very controlled conditions, to sell dum-dum and body armor penetrating bullets to law enforcement agencies, the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Guard, and other licensed dealers.

Polymer core bullets are defined in the bill as ammunition which: (1) is primarily designed for use in a handgun, and (2) is comprised of a metal jacketed bullet encapsulating a polymer core or containing a polymer nose which is designed and constructed to fragment as it impacts, and (3) may be formulated and structured to breach or penetrate body armor.

Cognizant that future technological and scientific advances might give rise to a new generation of equally dangerous and destructive ammunition which is not comprised of polymers, the bill also extends the prohibition to fragmenting and body armor piercing bullets with cores or noses comprised of other nonmetallic materials or synthetic compounds.