For decades, gun regulations in the state of New Jersey have been especially strict. Under formerGov. Chris Christie, the state saw one of the most controversial of those regulations – the “justifiable need” requirement for concealed carry permit holders – loosened. Now that Gov. Phil Murphy has taken office, though, one of his first moves has been to reinstate the controversial regulation, and gun rights advocates are fighting back.
Under the reinstated regulation, citizens of New Jersey will have to prove that they have a “justifiable need” to carry concealed before they are able to obtain a concealed carry permit in the state. This would require anyone who is given a concealed carry permit to have either already been the victim of an attack or have faced “specific threats” in the past.
The obvious issue is that a lack of past attacks and threats and is no indication that a person will never find themselves the victim of an attack in the future. Citizens of New Jersey should have the right to defend themselves regardless of whether or not they are able to prove that they are in immediate danger. As many people know all too well, danger can strike at any time.
Now, New Jersey gun rights advocates – backed by the NRA – are challenging the legality of this regulation. “By the time you would qualify, you’d already be dead,” said Scott Bach, the President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs which is challenging the law in court. He went on to say that it is “impossible for the average citizen to qualify” for a concealed carry permit in the state.
The good news for gun rights advocates in New Jersey is that there is already some precedent for courts to find this particular law unconstitutional. After an almost identical law in Washington D.C. was challenged in court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that D.C. must issue concealed carry permits to any adult who is able to pass a background check, provide their fingerprints, and complete the proper training courses.
Emboldened by this victory, Bach says he now hopes that challenging the law in New Jersey will prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue and come up with a ruling that all states must abide by.
Either way, gun rights advocates in New Jersey are likely to have an ongoing battle on their hands in preventing Phil Murphy from tightening their already stringent laws. At a press conference in January, Murphy made it clear that one of his goals as governor would be to further strengthen gun control laws in the state, saying, “There are already too many guns in our streets, and simply adding more to the equation will not make us or our communities any safer.”
For citizens of New Jersey who want to protect themselves and their families without having to prove that they are already in danger, though, there is a lot riding on this key legal battle.
~ Firearm Daily