(The Center Square) — New Jersey is moving to implement a controversial two-decades-old law requiring the sale of so-called “smart” guns in the state.
On Thursday, the state Attorney General’s office announced that the Personalized Handgun Authorization Commission has approved “performance standards and qualifying criteria” for personalized handguns to be sold in the state, which officials described as a key step to implementing the long-delayed law.
Under the new criteria, manufacturers seeking to be added to the state’s personalized handgun roster must demonstrate the handguns have reliable personalization technology, features to avoid accidental discharge or damage and comply with state and federal law, the AG’s office said.
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin called the move a “major milestone” by defining the features of “smart” guns to be made available for sale in New Jersey.
“Too many times gun violence is the result of an individual gaining access to someone else’s gun,” he said in a statement. “These can be criminals, or people in crisis, or young children who do not understand that they are not playing with a toy. We know the effects of these repeated tragedies far too painfully in New Jersey and they must end.”
In 2002, New Jersey passed the so-called “smart gun” law, which required gun retailers to sell personalized weapons within 30 months of their emergence on the market.
But implementation of the law has been delayed for more than two decades amid wrangling over the regulations and a lack of guidelines for the state’s personalized handgun roster.
Meanwhile, the law has been criticized by gunmakers and Second Amendment advocates, who say it has stifled innovation and full-scale development of new technology.
“Gun control supporters advocate laws to prohibit the sale of firearms that do not possess “smart” technology, as a way to prohibit the manufacture of traditional handguns, raise the price of handguns that would be allowed to be sold and, presumably, to imbed into handguns a device that would allow guns to be disabled remotely,” the National Rifle Association said in a recent blog post.
Platkin said adopting the new criteria will allow the program to move to the next stage, which will involve designing protocols for testing proposed personalized handguns, creating a formal application process, and preparing to accept applications from gun makers.
New Jersey already has some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws, and Democrats who control the state Legislature have been pushing for even tighter restrictions.
A law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy last year seeks to prevent licensed firearm owners from carrying guns in at least 25 “sensitive places” like government buildings, libraries, public transportation and daycare centers.
The measure was approved in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the N.Y. State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case, which struck down a New York law requiring applicants to show “proper cause” to get a permit to carry a firearm.
Gun owners’ groups filed a lawsuit to block the changes and convinced a U.S. District Court judge to block provisions of the law limiting firearms in sensitive public places.
But a federal appeals court restored most of New Jersey’s new gun control laws while the legal challenge plays out.