Democratic leaders in New Jersey, a state with draconian gun laws rivaled only by California, New York, and Connecticut, are seeking to block efforts by Gov. Chris Christie (R) to issue gun permits to anyone in the state who can prove a “serious threat” against their life.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said relaxing the current regulations in the may-issue state, saying it would expand “the scope of the right-to-carry well beyond what is authorized under current law,” according to this story from nj.com.
“To put it simply, if these regulations were adopted, it would allow every cab driver, pizza delivery driver, Uber driver and anyone else living or working in a high-crime neighborhood to qualify for a firearm permit,” Weinberg said.
Some might say that that’s exactly the point.
For decades, New jersey residents have been required to detail a “justifiable need” to local law enforcement in order to be approved for a carry permit, of which very few are granted each year in a state with a population of over 8.9 million people.
Last summer, Carol Bowne from Berlin Township was murdered in her driveway by her ex-boyfriend, against whom she had a protection order, while awaiting for the approval of her permit to merely own a gun. Afterward, Christie, who has long derided the state’s strict gun laws, made it a priority to change procedures. In Bowne’s case, the local police department had more than exceeded the 30-day deadline for processing her application, and reports of police departments taking more than a year to process an application are not uncommon.
In New Jersey, residents must first apply for and receive a Firearms Purchaser ID Card (which includes fingerprinting, a background check, and a mental health history check) before being allowed to purchase and own a firearm. After that, an individual permit is required for each handgun purchase (which requires another background and mental health check), which is valid for 90 days. Only one handgun may be purchased per month.
According to the story, earlier this month, Christie’s newly appointed acting attorney general Robert Lougy, changed the firearms regulations by adding “serious threats” to the circumstances that could demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life, including those that “are not directed specifically at an individual, but which establish more than mere generalized fears or concerns.”
Democrats said they will seek to introduce a concurrent resolution to block the new regulations from taking effect.
Weinberg argued that Christie exploited Bowne’s death to weaken the state’s gun laws, saying that Bowne would have qualified for a “right-to-carry permit” under the state’s current rules. Bowne, however, would have needed to live long enough to have her Firearms ID Card application approved, then have her handgun permit approved, and then apply for and receive approval for a carry permit.
Weinberg said Monday that Democrats will be working on a second bill “to clarify the time limits and eliminate any confusion” about the deadline for approving or denying a gun permit application.
When asked about the fact that gun permit application decisions regularly exceeded a full year in some towns, Weinberg acknowledged the delays, but said they were “not according to the law, and shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”
Alexander Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, reacted to the move by chastising Democrats who “waste time passing legislation that would block regulatory changes the governor passed” while simultaneously “expecting the governor to sign” their legislation addressing the same issue, the story says.