In response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively made it easier to get carry permits, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed a sweeping — and intensely debated — law that will overhaul and strictly limit how and where you can legally carry a concealed handgun in New Jersey.
The bill (A4769) makes it illegal to carry a firearm in a large number of “critical sites” across the state. Locations where alcohol is supplied, airports, parks, beaches, demonstrations, movie theatres, casinos, and other entertainment venues are not included in this category.
The bill also makes it illegal to carry a firearm onto private property without the permission of the owner.
This covers places like homes, stores, supermarkets, and even churches.
The cost of having a firearm in the state will go up as a result of the new legislation, which includes an increase in different fees and the mandate that anyone applying for a carry permit pay for liability insurance and participate in training that can cost hundreds of dollars.
Murphy, a Democrat, signed the bill two months after it was filed and three days after the state Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, brought it to him, insisting that more individuals carrying guns will make the state safer.
Republicans and gun-rights supporters opposed the law, saying it was unconstitutional and unreasonable and would make it illegal for people to carry firearms in most public areas after leaving their homes, even if they had paid the required fees and received the required training.
It’s not done yet, though; New Jersey will likely face legal challenges over the law, just as New York has over a similar one. On Thursday, two gun rights organisations made public their plans to sue the state in an effort to halt the legislation.
Before signing the law at a ceremony in the Scotch Plains library, Murphy said, “While we are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, we are also obligated to do everything we can — consistent with that ruling — to make sure guns do not proliferate in our communities.” The crowd included dozens of gun-safety advocates, many of them from Moms Demand Action, who were wearing red T-shirts.
No action will improve safety, he said, and allowing hidden firearms everywhere in communities would be a mistake.
For many years, it was practically impossible for anyone in New Jersey who was not a retired law enforcement officer to receive a concealed-carry permit. To legally carry a weapon in New Jersey, you formerly needed to demonstrate a “justifiable need.
Next, in June, the United States Supreme Court issued a verdict known as the Bruen decision, which effectively nullified tight concealed-carry prohibitions in states like New York and New Jersey.
In response to Murphy’s demand, the state legislature has drafted a bill that he can sign into law. Murphy has signed multiple gun safety bills over the past five years. Those in favour of this view point out that innocent individuals still get shot in the process of self-defense.
On Thursday, the governor called the “tragic, erroneous judgement” of the Supreme Court’s “right-wing majority” a “outrage.”
Murphy mentioned the fight that occurred in September at the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. He questioned how having firearms would have improved the situation.
On Monday, the bill was approved by a vote of 21 to 16, mostly along partisan lines in the state senate. Party lines played a major role in last month’s 42-29 vote in the state assembly to approve the measure.
No Republican in the legislature voted in favour of the bill. Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson County) was the lone Democratic no vote, citing constitutional concerns.
The law has been criticised on the grounds that it violates the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s rulings, that criminals will disobey the regulations, and that citizens will be defenceless in the event of an assault. They further mention that the necessary insurance is unavailable in the state of New Jersey.
Republican state senator for Morris County Anthony Bucco released a statement on Monday calling it “a pity the Democratic majority would not cooperate with Republicans to ensure that the concealed carry of firearms can be controlled in a safe, sensible, and constitutional fashion.”
Instead, Bucco said, “they modelled after an excessive and blatantly illegal New York statute that federal judges have already ruled against,” making it possible, if not likely, that the new insurance requirements would be hard to achieve. It’s the Democrats’ “overreaching endeavour to explore how far they can go in rolling back the Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling while imposing even stronger restrictions on law-abiding weapon owners than ever before.”
Under the new law, the $2 charge required to apply for a handgun permit in New Jersey would now be increased to $25. This fee has been in effect since 1966. It also doubles the price of a concealed carry licence in the state, from $50 to $200.
“The cost of obtaining a handgun purchase licence is now more than that of obtaining a licence for a domesticated pet,” Murphy stated. Prospective employees would also be responsible for covering their own training and insurance costs.
Toting a firearm into a restricted area will now get you three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Law enforcement officers, members of the military forces, prosecutors, and judges are among the groups who are permitted, with caveats, to carry concealed weapons in court and other sensitive locations.
Murphy stated that those who have been found guilty of a felony, have restraining orders against them due to domestic violence, have been institutionalised due to mental illness, are wanted in other states for criminal acts, or have stated they want a weapon to do damage cannot obtain a carry permit.
In addition, the statute does not alter the requirement that firearms and ammunition be stored in separate lockable containers in the trunk of a motor vehicle.
Immediately, the provision about unsafe areas will be enforced. Over the next seven months, the other provisions of the law will go into effect.
On Thursday, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs sued the state in federal court, seeking to overturn the law and requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent it from going into effect pending the outcome of the case. It was asserted that the law “flagrantly and willfully undermines” both the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s decision.
The executive director of the American National Rifle and Pistol Coalition, Scott Bach, said in a statement that the law would “go down in flames” and that the Murphy administration would “end up paying the very hefty legal fees of gun owners to bring it down.”
On Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation lodged a parallel federal lawsuit. The statute, according to SAF co-founder and executive v.p. Alan Gottlieb, “actually criminalises licenced concealed carry just about everywhere, making a mockery of the freedom to bear weapons protected by the Second Amendment.”
“Despite unambiguous guidelines as to a citizens’ right to bear guns, New Jersey continues to thumb its nose at the constitutional rights of its citizens in the guise of’safety,'” Gottleib continued.
After a federal judge determined in November that crucial sections of New York’s cleanup bill in response to the Supreme Court decision were unconstitutional, the bill is still in limbo.
There is a provision in New Jersey law that says that if a portion of the statute is deemed unconstitutional, the rest of it will still be in effect. The Democrats insist the measure will hold up in court. Matthew Platkin, the state’s attorney general, called it “common sense” and “compatible with the Second Amendment.”
Platkin continued, “If a challenge arises, we are more than ready to defend it.” A “bold measure,” he said, the bill will safeguard citizens and police enforcement alike. Because when a fight breaks out in a bar and someone pulls out a pistol, or when road rage escalates into violence, who gets hurt? “It was a blue-clad individual,” Platkin remarked.
The bill had the backing of several police organisations. On Wednesday night, Murphy gave a televised interview in which he acknowledged the “tricky” nature of the matter while insisting that New Jersey had already taken measures to reduce the number of weapons used in crimes there (approximately 80% of which originate in other states).
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He stated that people will sleep easier knowing this law is in place.
Do you want to attend a place of worship where you might not know if someone in the congregation is armed? Murphy posed the question while a guest on News 12 New Jersey. The governor was also pressed for his thoughts on the other viewpoint, that some residents may feel more secure with a firearm at their side in light of recent anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim crimes.
We’ve taken a different approach,” Murphy remarked. Many resources have been allocated to the hardening of targets, including religious institutions like schools. Budgets have been allocated for the purpose of acquiring security guards. Okay, I get it, but let’s make sure this gets into the right hands.
New Jersey has one of the lowest rates of gun deaths per capita in the country, but advocates for looser restrictions on concealed carry point to states like Mississippi, which has the highest rate, as evidence that tighter regulations are necessary.
The opponents of this measure point out that Massachusetts, which has a lower per capita gun mortality rate than New Jersey, has a permitting system that is less stringent than the one proposed here. Critics of the bill claim that it will lead to the wrongful arrest of law-abiding gun owners because of the overly broad list of prohibited venues.
The question is, “What sort of nation do we want to be?” Thursday, Murphy posed the question. I really hoped I wouldn’t have to sign this bill, but unfortunately, we’re in this position right now.