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Gov. Phil Murphy shortly before signing a sweeping concealed carry reform bill in Scotch Plains on December 22, 2022. (Photo: Governor's Office via YouTube).

Murphy signs concealed carry bill into law

Governor says state must do everything it can in wake of Supreme Court ruling

By Joey Fox, December 22 2022 1:38 pm

At an event in Scotch Plains today, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a major gun control law bill which will significantly limit where concealed guns can be carried and require firearm permit holders to obtain liability insurance, among other provisions.

The bill, which worked its way through the legislature this fall with the strong support of the governor, was originally drafted in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down New York concealed carry laws that closely aligned with New Jersey’s. 

More specifically, the Supreme Court ruling nixes requirements limiting concealed carry permits to those who could demonstrate a justifiable need. The bill Murphy signed today thus eliminates New Jersey’s justifiable need requirements but creates a huge number of gun-free zones – including schools, parks, and government buildings – and strengthens permit regulations in various other ways.

“While we are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, we are also obligated to do everything we can – consistent with that ruling – to ensure that guns do not necessarily proliferate in our communities,” Murphy said today. “Doing nothing and blindly allowing concealed weapons into every corner of our communities does not make us safer.”

Republicans, as they did when the bill passed the legislature, responded with frustration and incredulity that New Jersey Democrats would push through a law that may ultimately be declared unconstitutional.

“It’s a shame the Democratic majority would not work with Republicans to ensure that the concealed carry of firearms can be managed in a safe, reasonable, and constitutional way,” State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) said in a statement. “Instead, they modeled after an extreme and clearly unconstitutional New York law that federal judges have already ruled against with new insurance requirements that may be impossible to meet.”

But Democrats have insisted that the law’s requirements do in fact comply with the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“We’re obligated to follow [the court’s decision],” Attorney General Matt Platkin said. “But nothing in that decision, and nothing under the 2nd Amendment, prevents us from doing what the legislature and the governor are doing today. These steps are common-sense, and they’re entirely consistent with the 2nd Amendment.”

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