Scutari & Coughlin Announce Major Gun Safety Initiative

statehouse

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin and Senate President Nick Scutari today unveiled legislation that would establish New Jersey as the toughest in the nation when it comes to concealed-carry laws.

This historic legislation will prevent guns from ending up in the hands of the wrong people by requiring more comprehensive background checks before a permit is issued; prohibiting permit holders from carrying handguns in sensitive public areas such as government buildings, sporting arenas and bars; and imposing new insurance restrictions, among other measures.

“New Jersey continues to be a leader on gun safety with laws that help keep our communities safe,” said Senate President Scutari (D-Union). “This bill will help prevent gun violence with common-sense standards to require training, promote gun safety and prevent firearms from being carried into sensitive locations. Finally, this new law will help provide a tool for law-enforcement in our fight against illegal gun trafficking.”

“This legislation is designed to make New Jersey safer in response to the US Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling that, left unaddressed, would undoubtedly hinder public safety for the more than nine million residents of our state,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “By ensuring that individuals can only obtain a concealed carry permit after extensive review and appropriate training, we are standing up for victims of gun violence and helping to prevent future tragedies while abiding by the Court’s decision.”

New Jerseyans support common sense gun safety measures, with recent polls showing that residents favor stricter gun safe laws by a margin of 5-1. And this legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, one of the many recreational hunters in our state who understands that when it comes to keeping our children and communities safe, there is no conflict between sportsmen, responsible gun ownership and gun safety laws.

“As a recreational hunter, I know that commonsense gun reform doesn’t stop sportsmen like me from continuing traditions that have been passed down through our families for generations,” said Assemblyman Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “And, as a father, I know how important it is to keep our communities and schools safe. There is nothing at odds with promoting responsible gun ownership, gun safety, gun education, and gun training while upholding the Second Amendment. I am proud to have authored this legislation that will strike a balance between promoting public safety and allowing people to exercise their Constitutional rights.”

The bill builds on other major common sense measures that the Legislature has passed in recent years, such as laws that regulate the sale of ammunition and increase penalties for irresponsible gun dealers and manufacturers.

“We are committed to protecting innocent lives with commonsense gun safety measures that have consistently kept New Jersey one of the safest states in the nation,” said Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington), a co-prime sponsor of the bill. “With this legislation we continue to affirm the right to responsible gun ownership and our never-ending commitment to public safety and violence prevention.”

“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year stripped away the right for states to regulate who is able to carry concealed weapons in public,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “We must do everything we can to make sure New Jersey families remain safe and protected while enjoying all New Jersey has to offer. This bill, ensuring gun owners prove a legitimate reason for carrying concealed handguns in public, is a promising step in the right direction.”

Among other provisions, this legislation:

  • Establishes a thorough vetting process for those who apply for concealed carry permits by increasing the number of non-family references who must vouch for applicants, and creating new disqualifications from the permit process such as “character of temperament” and past violations of restraining orders and convictions.
  • Prohibits permit holders from carrying handguns in broad categories including schools, government buildings, polling places, bars and restaurants, theaters, sporting arenas, parks, airports, casinos and childcare facilities.
  • Requires property owners to opt into allowing permittees to carry on their premises.
  • Requires concealed-carry permittees to undergo gun safety training, including a gun range qualification.
  • Imposes new insurance requirements on handgun ownership to ensure victims of an accidental discharge are appropriately compensated and protected.
  • Increases permitting fees across the board to cover the cost of stepped-up background checks and these new provisions.
  • Funds the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) by channeling revenue from the increased fees.

Though New Jersey had broad discretion to regulate concealed carry permits for over a century, those protections have been weakened in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision in June.

Since then, Republicans in New Jersey have introduced at least four bills to roll back gun safety protections, with bills that would bring more guns into our schools, allow people to carry guns while driving, carry firearms into privately owned places without the property owner’s consent, or allow ammunition magazines with unlimited number of bullets.

In all, Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly alone have introduced 33 bills that would increase the number of guns in our communities or make it easier to gain access to dangerous weapons.

The legislation is partially modeled on a law passed by New York that is currently facing a legal challenge from the gun lobby. Legislative leaders expect a similar challenge here in New Jersey and are prepared to vigorously defend this legislation against a powerful gun lobby and conservative judiciary that puts gun industry profits over the welfare of American families.

“The New Jersey legislature has taken a crucial first step in repairing the damage caused by the wrong and dangerous decision the Supreme Court made in Bruen,” said Lauren Knighton, a volunteer with the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We know what is at stake, and we cannot take our foot off the gas. I am proud to stand alongside New Jersey’s lawmakers, Governor Murphy, and fellow gun safety advocates to ensure that this bill becomes law so that all of our communities across New Jersey are protected from senseless acts of gun violence.”

“Brady applauds the New Jersey leaders for taking decisive action to protect New Jersey communities from the dangerous implications of the Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady. “By introducing legislation to strengthen the state’s public carry permitting system and establishing sensitive place restrictions, New Jersey leaders have again shown their commitment to public safety. Brady is thankful for this effort and stands ready to help defend any similar evidence-based gun violence prevention policies across the country.”