The bill would make a long list of places like beaches, bars, zoos, and sports stadiums where carrying a gun would be illegal. New Jersey is one step closer to changing its concealed-carry laws after the Assembly passed a broad gun-control bill Monday after a heated 90-minute debate.
In response to a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that made it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public, Democrats proposed the bill (A4769). Pro-Second Amendment groups are likely to go to court to stop the bill, which passed with only Democratic votes.
“As a father, a husband, and a proud gun owner, I will vote. Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex), the main person behind the bill, said, “I will vote because I believe public safety is our responsibility.” The vote was close: 42-29, with one person, not voting (legislation needs 41 yes votes in the Assembly to pass).
Before going to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk, the bill must also be passed by the state Senate, where it has not been set up for a vote. It would make a long list of places like beaches, bars, zoos, and sports stadiums where guns are not allowed.
It would also make gun owners pay new fees and fines, get insurance and store their guns in a certain way. Republicans said on Monday that the new rules would hurt legal gun owners and help criminals who don’t follow gun laws.
They also pointed out many times that New Jersey already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Hunterdon) said that the bill was an “insurrection in the legislature.”
“The real problem is the bad people, the criminals. We don’t want to go after them, though. Assemblyman Hal Wirths said, “We want to find the most law-abiding people who are well trained and go through these background checks” (R-Sussex).
“And, just like I said from the start, the real goal of many of you is to take away the guns,” he said.
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As reasons to vote against the measure, Republicans brought up Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, the rise in carjackings, protecting life in and out of the womb, and threats to democracy.
Speaker of the Assembly Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) told them over and over again to stay on topic. Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Morris) and the person who wrote the bill went back and forth about whether or not it is legal.
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Bergen has said many times that he thinks the measure goes against both the U.S. Constitution and what the Supreme Court said in June. He asked Danielsen to explain the meaning of words and phrases in the bill, such as “incidental entry.”
Under the bill, it would be illegal to bring a gun into certain places on purpose, except for “a brief, incidental entry onto the property.” “No,” Danielsen shot back. “I think you should talk to a lawyer or look something up in the dictionary.”
Bergen then used an expletive to describe Danielsen and later said on Twitter that he “meant it.” Democrats said that the bill respects the Second Amendment and keeps New Jersey residents safe at the same time.
They said that the Supreme Court’s decision in June lets states pass gun laws. Danielsen said again before the vote that he was sure the bill was in line with the Constitution because he had done “extensive research.”
Danielsen said, “It’s a bill that strikes the important balance between respecting and protecting people’s Second Amendment rights and making sure we do it in the safest and most responsible way possible.” Several police departments and police unions in New Jersey, such as the New Jersey State PBA, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Former Troopers Association, back the bill.