Murphy takes aim at loose gun rules

Phil Murphy speaks at a news conference, flanked by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Senate President Stephen Sweeney

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration reversed a regulatory change championed by former Gov. Chris Christie that made it easier for people to carry concealed handguns in New Jersey.

Ten days into his term, Murphy, a Democrat, announced the reversal and pledged to “explore every legal option” to challenge the federal concealed carry reciprocity bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives and would  force New Jersey and other states to honor concealed-carry permits issued outside of their borders– even if those states have lower standards or no standards for concealed-carry.

New Jersey is one of ten states that currently does not honor concealed-carry permits issued by other states.

“New Jersey cannot and must not become part of the race to the bottom that we’re seeing across the country,” said Murphy, at a news conference in Trenton alongside Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “There already are too many guns in our streets and simply adding more into the equation will not make us or our communities any safer.”

“Should this reciprocity bill somehow pass the Senate and be signed by President Trump, we will be right back here, announcing our intention to explore every legal option to prevent Washington from endangering our communities,” Murphy said.

“The pain I experienced that day is a pain I hope no other mother should have to overcome,” said Glenda Torres, a Trenton mother whose 23-year-old son Benjamin Davila was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2012..

The governor is also mindful of a reciprocity bill pending in Congress that would require New Jersey to honor concealed carry permits issued elsewhere, even if those states have lower, or no standards.

New Jersey is one of ten states that currently does not honor concealed carry permits issued out of state.

Christie attempted to make it easier for people to carry concealed handguns in New Jersey.

Murphy says most residents believe there are too many guns on the streets, and more firearms will not make communities any safer.

“Our administration will begin the process of rescinding the Christie administration’s unilateral attempt to extend concealed carry law beyond that which our law already says,” Murphy said.

New Jersey law previously required individuals seeking to obtain a handgun -carry permit to demonstrate a “justifiable need” that they had been the recipient of specific threats or attacks.

The Christie administration policy, adopted in March 2017, attempted to reduce the threshold by allowing applicants to include serious threats to support the required demonstration of justifiable need.

As such, someone who lives or works in an area where certain crimes are common could arguably apply for a handgun-carry permit by citing a concern for their safety, even if they have not been personally subjected to a threat or incident.

In April 2017, the Legislature sued Governor Christie over the change, saying it ignored the legislative intent of the law, but that lawsuit is still pending.

“Today my office has begun taking steps to make our state’s handgun carry rules consistent with long-settled legal precedent,” Attorney General Grewal said. “Our ultimate goal is to solidify New Jersey’s handgun permitting rule language in its prior form – as advocated by the Legislature, and consistent with two prior decisions rendered by the State’s highest court. New Jersey’s law should be clear – private citizens should not be able to carry weapons based on mere generalized fear.”

When the revised gun-carry regulations were first proposed in 2016, proponents

In a statement criticizing Murphy’s announcement, Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, pointed to the fatal stabbing of Carol Bowne, a Berlin Township woman by her boyfriend as she waited for a gun permit to be approved as an example of why the change was needed.

“It is an outrage that the same government that abandons its duty to keep us safe is also working to prevent us from protecting ourselves,” Bach said. “Governor Murphy will have the blood of more innocents like Carol Bowne on his hands.”



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