NJ Watches as Hawaii Uses National Gun Control Database
New Jersey currently has some of the toughest gun control laws in the entire country, with the Graves Act imposing minimum mandatory terms of incarceration for anyone convicted of illegally possessing a handgun. Now NJ lawmakers may soon have extra ammunition in their fight to limit gun ownership and gun possession rights within state borders after another state, Hawaii, passed a law that will allow Hawaii law enforcement and local police departments to keep track of owners of firearms by accessing a national database.
The nationwide database that will be used by Hawaii law enforcement agencies is known as the “Rap Back” system. It is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and will grant access to information about gun owners’ arrest records. This matters a great deal because while firearm applicants are currently subject to background checks in Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and elsewhere in the United States, those background checks generally cease once an applicant is approved. As a result, a person who buys a handgun after being approved to do so might no longer be under the watchful eye of law enforcement – even if that person gets arrested at a later date. This will now change in Hawaii and in any other states where lawmakers decide to utilize the FBI firearm ownership database.
The recently enacted Hawaii legislation was passed by state legislators and later signed into law by David Ige, the state’s governor. The new gun ownership law effectively creates a means for local law enforcement to monitor handgun owners for criminal records. This means that police will be able to go beyond merely running background checks on people who attempt to buy a handgun or who seek to register their previously owned handgun in Hawaii; law enforcement can now run continuous checks on handgun owners through the FBI database.
Depending on the results of the Hawaii law, it is very possible that other states like New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania could eventually decide to opt in and use the FBI “Rap Back” database as well. In the case of New Jersey, given the state’s already stringent weapons offense laws, additional monitoring of handgun owners could potentially result in many more arrests and convictions for gun crimes like illegal handgun possession, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
For further information, check out the KITV.com article, “Hawaii Is 1st US State to Enroll Gun Owners in Federal Database.”
If you are facing criminal charges for a gun crime in New Jersey, it is imperative that you talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be looking at significant penalties that include prison time. Jill R. Cohen, Esq., is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who won’t stop fighting for you. Contact The Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen now to schedule a free consultation about your case.