Weinberg & Gill Measure To Block Christie Administration Effort to Loosen NJ Gun Laws Clears Senate

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Nia H. Gill that would block an attempt by the Christie Administration to loosen New Jersey’s strict gun laws was approved today by the Senate.

The Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR-117) is the second part of a two-step process that would prohibit the implementation of regulations proposed by the administration to expand the definition of justifiable need for the purpose of obtaining a gun carry permit, which are inconsistent with legislative intent. The Senate approved the resolution 22-15; the regulations would be invalidated upon approval by the Assembly of the resolution.

“These regulations would vastly loosen New Jersey’s appropriately strict gun laws, and allow more people to become eligible for firearm carry permits in our state,” said Senate Majority Leader Weinberg (D-Bergen). “In short, they would allow anyone living or working in high-crime neighborhoods to qualify for a firearm carry permit. This is completely contrary to our current laws which are intended to limit who carries a handgun outside of the home, and permit only those with a specific threat to their life to carry a firearm. We cannot allow the administration to alter our strong gun laws. This legislation is intended to block that effort.”

“We will not allow the administration to make unilateral changes to our laws. Relaxing the state’s requirements for obtaining a carry permit would make New Jersey less safe, but is also inconsistent with the Legislature’s intent,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex, Passaic). “It is our obligation as the Legislative Branch, a coequal branch of government, to prevent this improper move.”

To obtain a permit to carry a handgun, an applicant is required to provide a certification of justifiable need, defined in regulation as “the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.”

The Division of State Police has proposed regulations to amend the “justifiable need” standard by adding “serious threats” to the circumstances that could demonstrate justifiable need to carry a weapon and clarifying that the means of possible avoidance of the danger must be “reasonable.” The change would allow applicants to qualify for a gun permit even if the threats, while serious, are not specifically directed at them.

Current law and judicial interpretations of the justifiable need standard clearly require demonstration of an urgent necessity for protection from a specified threat to one’s life rather than a mere generalized fear or concern, the resolution states. The proposed regulatory amendment expanding the scope of the right to carry well beyond that authorized under current law and judicial interpretation is inconsistent with the Legislature’s intent to strictly limit who carries a handgun outside the home, according to the first resolution in the process (SCR-101).