Gov. Murphy Signs Bill to Hold Gun Traffickers Criminally Liable for Resulting Deaths and Injuries

Expanding on New Jersey’s nation-leading gun safety laws, Governor Phil Murphy today signed S3150, which establishes strict liability criminal penalties for gun traffickers when an illegally trafficked firearm provided by them is used in a crime that results in serious or significant bodily injury or death.

Under the first-in-the-nation legislation, also known as the “Real Accountability for Consequences of Unlawful Trafficking of Firearms Act,” a trafficked firearm used for a crime resulting in a death may be charged with a first-degree crime. Similarly, a person who commits a firearm trafficking violation resulting in serious or significant bodily injury may be charged with a second-degree crime. The bill will also allow New Jersey prosecutors to charge out-of-state traffickers, who have supplied around 80% of guns used for crimes in our state, for the harms their illegal out-of-state conduct causes in New Jersey.

The legislation is modeled on similar, longstanding laws that impose strict criminal liability on drug dealers for overdose deaths caused by their illicit products.

“Far too many New Jerseyans live with the daily fear that people in their communities who cannot legally possess guns can illegally obtain firearms and cause great harm,” said Governor Murphy. “This bill allows us to hold those who illegally traffic those guns accountable for the harm that those weapons are used to cause. With today’s new law, New Jersey will become the first state in the nation to go after illegal gun traffickers in this way. This is yet another historic step to protect our children and families from gun violence, and we will continue to support long-term solutions that will break the cycle of violence once and for all.”

Today’s strong anti-trafficking bill builds on the Governor’s commonsense record of gun reforms, which has positioned New Jersey as a leader in gun safety. Since the beginning of the Murphy Administration, more than a dozen steps have been taken to address gun violence in the state. In July 2022, Governor Murphy signed seven comprehensive gun safety bills, his third significant gun safety package signing since taking office in 2018.

In collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General, more actions have been taken beyond the passing of legislation to address violence. Last week, it was announced that $15 million would be made available through a competitive grant process to support Community-Based Violence Intervention (CBVI) Programs throughout the state. The program now stands at a $40 million investment in state and federal funds since 2021. CBVI programs use interventions and protective activities in communities and among populations associated with risk factors for exposure to violence. Through this public health approach to interrupt cycles of violence, and with a focus on reducing gun violence, CBVI initiatives include a range of strategies: mentoring programs, street outreach, trauma support services, de-escalation among high-risk individuals, targeted afterschool programs, job training, and more.

The first prime sponsors of today’s bill, which passed unanimously through both houses, include Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Linda Carter.

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