Following a federal ruling last week that blocked large portions of New Jersey’s new concealed carry law, Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Linden) – the law’s sponsor in the Senate – said today that he still believes the law is constitutionally sound.
“We’re going to let the litigation process move forward,” Scutari said after a Senate voting session. “We took the steps we needed to take. I believe the bill is solid and constitutional, and we’re hoping that as it works through the litigation process, they’ll see it our way.”
Asked what steps the legislature might take if the law is ultimately deemed unconstitutional, Scutari said that would depend on the nature of the ruling itself.
“If it’s struck down, we’ll start over,” he said. “Which might involve looking at the ruling and seeing what other steps we can do that fit within that ruling while still safeguarding New Jerseyans from lots and lots of additional guns legally carried on the street.”
The push to change New Jersey’s concealed carry laws was kickstarted last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law in New York requiring “justifiable need” to be demonstrated for concealed carry licenses. Since New Jersey had a similar law on the books, the ruling forced the state’s leaders to devise alternate ways to limit firearms.
Over loud Republican objections, the Democratic-led legislature approved a bill in the fall that eliminated justifiable need requirements but added a number of new restrictions, including barring firearms in a huge array of “sensitive areas” and requiring firearm owners to purchase liability insurance. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill in December.
But soon afterwards, U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb temporarily blocked large portions of the law from going into effect; last week, Bumb expanded on her previous ruling, blocking even more provisions and extending her decision to last for the duration of litigation.
New Jersey’s law “went too far,” Bumb wrote, “becoming the kind of law that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson would have warned against since it ‘disarm[s] only those who are not inclined or determined to commit crimes [and] worsen[s] the plight of the assaulted, but improve[s] those of the assailants.’”