Folks on this side of the gun debate tend to point out that there are already laws on the books to keep guns out of criminal hands, they only need to be enforced. People on the other side tend to ignore that and want to create even new laws that can be ignored.

However, a Democrat in New Jersey is making a proposal that’s probably not going to send gun rights activists into a frenzy. Don’t believe me? I don’t mind, I wouldn’t believe me either.

But it’s true.

You see, he wants to up the penalties for laws already in place.

State Sen. Troy Singleton has introduced two gun bills to increase the punishment of people who either steal guns or illegally solicit someone to purchase a firearm for them.

Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, introduced the measures Monday, saying they send a message of “zero tolerance” to criminals who attempt to illegally obtain a gun in New Jersey.

His first bill would make it a third-degree crime punishable by between three and five years in prison to solicit another to buy a gun for someone disqualified from possessing or purchasing one.

These types of “straw purchases” are a common tactic of gun traffickers, who are frequently the source of firearms used in crimes in New Jersey.

During the first quarter of 2018, 77 percent of the guns recovered from crimes in New Jersey were traced and found to have come from another state, according to the New Jersey State Police.

In addition, the legislation mandates that the penalty for soliciting a straw purchase cannot be merged with the penalty for a related or unrelated crime.

Of all the proposals I’ve seen come out of New Jersey, this is one I don’t mind.

Not that I expect it to make a damn bit of difference. After all, part of the problem we currently have isn’t a lack of penalties but a lack of enforcement as a whole. Adding penalties won’t matter unless people are actually prosecuted.

If this were to accompany stricter enforcement, then so much the better. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

But, as wastes of time focused on “gun crime” go, it’s hardly the worst one. After all, we all tend to agree that we don’t want armed criminals. We also tend to agree that criminals get guns from one of two places. They either get them through straw purchases or they obtain stolen guns, either by stealing them themselves or by buying them off the black market.

This proposal takes aim at both of those while doing nothing to hurt law-abiding gun owners.

Frankly, this is what we’ve been asking for. I’m amazed that it’s come from a Democrat, truth be told, but it is what it is.

However, I’d also advise state Sen. Singleton to also make sure this measure goes hand-in-hand with the strict prosecution of those who try to buy guns through straw purchases. If that happens, it will do a fair bit to help on that front.

I’m not sure there’s much you can do to stop people from stealing guns, truth be told, but I can at least appreciate the effort.