New Jersey could soon become the fourth state to limit handgun purchases to one a month, a move aimed at fighting “straw” gun buyers who purchase weapons legally and pass them to criminals, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. There is much debate over whether such laws work, however. Opponents say a limit would infringe on a constitutional right in a state that already has rigorous screenings for gun buyers.
The proposal won approval in the Assembly but faces a tough final test in the more evenly divided Senate. Gov. Jon Corzine, who sponsored a similar plan in the U.S. Senate, has said he will “absolutely” sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk. “How many guns does somebody need to purchase in a month?” he asked asked. Only California, Maryland, and Virginia have one-gun-a-month restrictions. South Carolina had a similar law for nearly 30 years but repealed it in the face of criticism that it had proved ineffective. Bryan Miller of Ceasefire NJ said the New Jersey bill would not stop gun trafficking in the state but would be an impediment. Scott Bach of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs said, “This legislation makes it a crime to exercise a constitutional right to obtain handguns any more often than Big Brother dictates.”