New Jersey Outlaws Untraceable ‘Ghost Guns,’ 3-D Printing of Firearms

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy broadened one of the nation’s toughest gun laws with a ban on untraceable firearms, including those manufactured on three-dimensional printers.

The bill signing, before an audience of anti-gun activists in Trenton, had been scheduled before a mass shooting Wednesday night at a Thousand Oaks, California, bar that left at least a dozen people dead.

‘’At what point do we finally wake up to the reality that we remain the only advanced society that tolerates such horror on such a regular basis?” Murphy said.

The new law immediately criminalizes the purchase of parts to make “ghost guns,” so called because their lack of serial numbers makes them untraceable.

It also disallows not only the manufacture of 3-D guns, but also distribution of their printer computer code -- enabling users to bypass licensing laws and possess plastic weapons that may go undiscovered in metal detectors. The weapons’ future is under legal debate nationally: A federal judge in August ordered Texas-based Defense Distributed not to sell such blueprints after President Donald Trump’s administration in July settled a lawsuit allowing it to do so. New Jersey joined 20 other states in a letter criticizing the settlement.

New Jersey, the most densely populated U.S. state, has a long history of enacting strict firearms laws. In 1990 the Garden State followed California’s lead to become the second of what now are seven states to ban assault weapons, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco-based non-profit group.

In January, then-Governor Chris Christie -- a Republican who had vetoed a bill tightening access to concealed-carry permits -- enacted a law banning bump stocks, the trigger-tripping devices used by the gunman in Las Vegas last year in the nation’s deadliest mass shooting by an individual.

Murphy, a Democrat who succeeded the term-limited Christie, this year signed laws to limit magazine capacity and rescind some owners’ rights after psychological evaluations. Last week, after 11 people were killed by a gunman at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Murphy urged lawmakers to give him bills on trafficking, photo identifications and “smart” guns, which can be fired only by their owners.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.