A new gun control bill, designed to address the Supreme Court’s June decision striking down state concealed carry laws, advanced this morning from the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 3-2, party-line vote. The bill, spearheaded by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Franklin), was unveiled less than a week ago and is on a fast track through the legislature.
If ultimately enacted, the bill would eliminate New Jersey’s justifiable need standard for concealed carry permits – which was invalidated by the Supreme Court’s ruling – while adding insurance and training requirements for gun permit applicants and disqualifying certain individuals from obtaining a permit. It would also severely limit where guns could be carried in public, barring guns from government buildings, schools, recreational areas, polling places and more.
“Because of the recent rulings from the Supreme Court, the landscape of carrying firearms has changed greatly,” Danielsen, himself a gun owner, testified before the committee. “This is a safety bill, not a gun bill. This is a common-sense bill. This is a bill that New Jersey needs, and it needs it quick.”
But several people at the committee hearing, among them Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn (R-Holmdel), raised concerns about whether the bill would stand up to scrutiny under the Constitution.
“We’re putting in place a law that does not conform with the Second Amendment,” Flynn said. “Anyone with a law degree would look at this and say, this does not conform with the Second Amendment. It’s going to be challenged, and we’re going to spend a lot of dollars [defending it].”
“This bill is a big middle finger to the United States Supreme Court,” concurred Scott Bach of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.
Representatives of gun control groups countered that New Jersey has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation, something they credited to the state’s strong gun laws.
The bill has yet to get assigned to a committee in the Senate, but since Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Linden) is its prime sponsor, it likely has a path through that chamber. Gov. Phil Murphy, who has long been one of the state’s most avid proponents of gun control legislation, has said he will sign the bill if it passes the legislature.
“We have to set standards,” Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel) said today as she voted yes on the bill. “We have to set laws that provide each and every resident the right to safety… Let’s look at this bill as a common sense bill. Let’s look at this as us protecting our residents.”