New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent move to ease restrictions on firearm permit applications spurred guarded optimism among Second Amendment advocates, but riled top Democrats who control both houses of the Legislature.
They vowed a court battle.
Christie on March 7 adopted a revised regulation to let police chiefs or State Police officials, who oversee gun permit applications, to also consider “serious threats” as justifications to carry a handgun.
But these threats, “are not directed specifically at an individual,” said Brian Murray, a Christie spokesman.
Evan F. Nappen of Evan F. Nappen Attorney At Law, PC located in Eatontown, N.J., and an Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of New Jersey, said, “Despite the governor’s good efforts to incrementally improve New Jersey’s carry permit system, the anti-gun faction of the New Jersey Legislature is doing everything they can to stop the implementation of Christie’s changes.”
“Apparently, under the new Christie standard, ‘justifiable need’ requires a showing of generalized serious threat to the applicant,” Nappen said. “Where the old standard requires a showing of threats that are directed specifically to the applicant, and a general serious threat was not sufficient” grounds to get a permit.
According to the language of the revised regulation, “For example, one such situation could be a taxi driver who works nights in a particular precinct where armed assailants recently and on multiple occasions had flagged down cabs at night and robbed and shot the drivers. Another example of a serious but not specific threat may be where the applicant is an eyewitness to a murder committed by the member of a street gang that has engaged in systematic and dangerous witness intimidation and retaliation.”
Therefore, Murray said Christie’s amendment, “harmonizes the regulatory definition of ‘justifiable need’ with the construction of that standard by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.”
But there was no harmony over the issue at the New Jersey State House in Trenton. Democrat lawmakers, who thought they had blocked the proposal last year, were surprised by Christie’s move, the Associated Press reported.
“We will not allow the Christie administration to dictate changes to our laws,” said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, the Senate majority leader. Her comments were carried by the news website, nj.com.
“The Legislature found the regulations to be inconsistent with legislative intent, and voted to block them from taking effect,” added Weinberg, (D-Teaneck). “They cannot ignore that action.”
General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus), said Democrats would go to court to continue the fight, according to AP.
Prieto called the governor’s action, “an affront to the state constitution, our democratic process and public safety,” the AP reported.
Pro-Second Amendment advocates praised the revision, but braced for battle.
“We applaud Gov. Christie for adopting this new regulation despite the efforts of anti-gun lawmakers to kill it,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.
“The Right to Bear Arms necessarily includes the right to self-defense with a firearm outside the home,” Bach added. “Although 43 states recognize that right, New Jersey remains one of a handful of backward states that apparently prefer their citizens to be victims—except for legislators, who themselves enjoy the armed protection of State House security details.”
New Jersey Second Amendment Society also credited Christie, but left no doubt that the struggle continues.
“So, yes, we applaud the Governor for doing this,” said Alexander Roubian, the group’s president. “He honestly didn’t have to and he at least put in an effort to do something. But it’s less than a breadcrumb. It will be ignored by the judges and be repealed the second an anti-gun governor gets into office. We want positive legislation and good court rulings because we know it’s the only way we’ll ever get anything in this state.”
The Legislature is considering a full slate of gun-related bills in its current session. Click here to see the bills. — Bill Miller, contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog