Will New Jersey Pass the Toughest Gun Laws in the Nation?
If you’re a New Jersey resident, you may have heard that the state Assembly and Senate are cooking up something big. That big something just passed through a public safety committee, and it might leave New Jersey with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Although it hasn’t officially been signed into law yet, most believe it’s on a one-way ticket to passing. Because the Democrat-controlled state legislature and Governor Phil Murphy both support it, its passage is effectively guaranteed.
Of course, people all over the state are in arms about this new law, whether in support or opposition. But what are both sides saying about it? And what will the law actually mean for New Jersey gun owners? In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about this new legislation ahead of the beginning of voting in New Jersey.
What the Law Entails
The law is known as the “Permit to Carry Bill.” It has three key parts: ownership restrictions, a liability insurance mandate, and open carry limitations. Let’s break down each to get a clearer picture of what this law will do.
New Jersey’s new law will make getting a permit to carry harder. New gun owners will be screened for mental disorders or alcoholism histories and will not be allowed to get a permit if they have had these in the past. They would also need to take a gun safety course before getting their permit.
The liability insurance mandate will require gun owners to insure themselves in order to obtain a carry permit. They will have to purchase insurance with limits as high as $100,000 for injuries or death to one person and $300,000 for multiple people. Gun owners will need to carry this proof of insurance with them while they carry.
Open Carry Limitations
This is possibly the most controversial portion of the law. The Permit to Carry Bill would restrict the carry of firearms in a variety of “sensitive places” as defined by the legislature. Schools, parks, bars, and buses would fall under this category, making it illegal to carry there.
What Do Its Proponents Say?
Those who support the new bill say that it will usher in a new era of peace and harmony in New Jersey. Without this bill, millions of New Jerseyans would be right to be afraid of a potential shooting in places like stadiums, government buildings, and even the train to work. With this new legislation, they won’t have to worry about it.
Broadly speaking, the law supports left-leaning New Jerseyans, especially in the state legislature. State Democrats say this bill is a big step towards preventing senseless violence. And it seems they believe that the restrictions will not place undue restrictions on where people can carry. The bill will allow for carrying in plenty of public spaces, like stores. They say people can still use their guns freely, and those who don’t can feel safer.
Who’s Against It and Why?
New Jersey Republicans and gun advocates are unhappy with the bill. Republican members of the state legislature pointed to provisions like the one which restricts carrying on private property without permission of the owner as examples of government overreach.
Gun advocates also oppose the new bill, and they do so fervently. They see the whole premise of the bill as false, as responsible gun owners can help stop tragedies like mass shootings from ever happening. Therefore, this law would make the Garden State far less safe than it currently is, completely defeating its purpose. Gun advocates have promised not to give up the fight any time soon.
What Happens Next?
The bill passed through a legislative committee on Thursday. Next, it will go before the full New Jersey state legislature. With Democrats in control of the legislature, it seems quite unlikely that the bill will fail to pass. Then, it will go before Governor Murphy. This is an even greater sure thing, as Murphy has already restricted gun ownership once this year. After that, the law is ready to go into effect as part of the New Jersey state codes.
Or is it? Many see a much rockier future for this new bill, as evidenced by the story that unfolded in New York this year. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional when New York introduced controversial legislation that, among other things, banned guns from churches. In the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision, the court ruled 6-3 in favor of suspending the law for now.
New Jersey’s new bill is viewed as not just a spiritual successor to New York’s but as a direct response to the Bruen decision. As such, this bill is likely headed down the path of extensive litigation. You can bet that nearly every gun possession lawyer in the state will be armed and ready to fight this bill tooth and nail. And while the decision did allow states to define some special places where guns could be restricted, many expect the pro-gun, anti-restriction side to find themselves on top in these situations. Only time will tell how much of the bill will eventually get passed.
It’s hard to know the impacts of a bill that hasn’t been passed yet, but it seems clear that this bill would greatly restrict the carrying of firearms in New Jersey. If you’re a responsible gun owner, then the writers of this bill say they have no problem with you, and they just want those who might actually harm people and do significant damage to public life. However, it isn’t hard to see where gun advocates come from with their objections. If you let the government restrict gun ownership to this degree, the thinking goes, what’s to stop them from similarly regulating other aspects of life? Ultimately, however, the choice is yours whether or not you want to open carry or not. And, if you find this bill an unfortunate example of government overreach, you can always vote out those who passed this law in the next election!