A densely populated and industry-rich state like New Jersey doesn't need more people carrying .50-caliber rifles capable of hitting a target from miles away.
These devastatingly destructive weapons should be banned.
In the coming weeks, state Assembly members can take the first step toward doing just that - by approving a measure that would halt the sale of the rifles, now legal even under New Jersey's restrictive gun laws.
The measure is expected to come up for a vote by next month. If passed, New Jersey would be only the second state to institute such a ban, following California, where these weapons were banned in 2004.
The risks in not doing so are clear. Consider what happened in Texas last month, when a NASCAR fan at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth was struck by a stray bullet fired from a .50-caliber Vulcan single-shot rifle some five miles away.
With a weapon designed and advertised for military use, the danger from such accidental mishaps is only half of the worry in a heavily urban and suburban state.
As noted by the prominent handgun safety group Ceasefire NJ, the Garden State abounds with potential targets for terrorists armed with these so-called sniper rifles. Planes crowding busy skies, chemical rail tankers, refineries, and other industrial plants storing dangerous materials - all would be vulnerable to a weapon that one weapons manufacturer boasts will down a jet with a single round.
The Assembly bill, A-2116, would prohibit the sale to civilians of these sniper rifles and .50-caliber handguns. (It would not affect sales or ownership of large-caliber hunting rifles or historic reenactor guns.) Ceasefire NJ is right to credit Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D., Camden) for his advocacy of this safety measure.