Lengthy and often contentious debate dominated Thursday's Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee hearing, as the group took testimony on a bill that would reduce the legal capacity of ammunition magazines in New Jersey to 10 rounds, rather than the current 15.

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The measure was approved by the panel along party lines.

"I'm shocked at the lack of understanding in our government of the role that firearms have played in our history," said Bill Scanlon, a Mullica Hill resident who is also secretary of the South Jersey Arms Collectors Club. "If there were no firearms there would be no United States, slavery would still exist and Nazi Germany would control Europe."

Both sides gave impassioned testimony in the argument. Supporters said the bill would definitely save lives. Opponents, like Scanlon, feel it's punitive and unnecessary.

"What's more concerning is the potential for incarceration, 10 years for owning a piece of American history," Scanlon said. "This law would turn many honest, law-abiding citizens into criminals, cost significant loss of value and do absolutely nothing to stop the criminal."

History has shown us something else, according to one of the prime sponsors of the bill. Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) explained that we know for a fact that lives were saved at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. when the shooter stopped to reload his 30-round magazines.

"I am struggling to understand the inconvenience of reloading after 10 rounds," Greenwald said. "This is not about legal gun owners. This is not about taking guns away from individuals."

In late February, Greenwald and other legislators who support the bill were joined by parents of children who were killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Twenty school children and six adults died at Sandy Hook. The shooter unleashed 154 bullets in about four minutes.

"Five of those bullets hit my son, and in an instant my precious boy was gone," said Nicole Hockley, who lost her six-year-old son Dylan. "In the time it took the shooter to reload in one of the classrooms, in Dylan's classroom, 11 children had the opportunity to escape."