Atlantic County, New Jersey isn’t a Second Amendment Sanctuary, but local lawmakers designated the community a “Second Amendment/Lawful Gun Owner County” at a freeholders meeting on Tuesday night.
The 6-2 vote was greeted with cheers from supporters, but as the Press of Atlantic City reports, opponents of the measure were on hand as well.
“You will have blood on your hands,” said one audience member as the last freeholder voted.
Cape May, Salem and several other New Jersey counties have passed similar resolutions, as have many municipalities throughout the state and nation. Some have used the term ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary,” but the Atlantic county resolution purposely avoided the word ‘sanctuary,’ said Democratic Freeholder Ernest Coursey, who chairs the Public Safety Committee which drafted the resolution.
The resolution says that the freeholder board “hereby upholds the Second Amendment Rights of the citizens of the County of Atlantic and hereby declares its intent to oppose unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, and shall not endorse those restrictions deemed unconstitutional.”
The language endorsed by the freeholder board is largely symbolic, but I’m a little curious as to who will deem any restrictions as unconstitutional. Will the freeholders endorse gun control measures that have not been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, or will they take a stand in opposition to proposed measures like Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to jack up the fees New Jersey residents must pay in order to get permission to exercise their Second Amendment rights?
Murphy is asking lawmakers to raise the cost of a $2 gun application to $50, and a firearm ID card from $5 to $100, according to the state’s treasury department.
The Democratic governor also proposed a 2.5% tax on firearms and a 10% tax on ammunition.
Murphy said Tuesday that raising the cost of handgun permits especially would improve public safety.
“These fees are meant to cover the costs of State Police background checks on prospective gun buyers — and, right now, they don’t come close to doing so,” he said during his annual budget address.
I think the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has been a good thing, and it’s been great to see the movement take hold in anti-gun states like New Jersey. Still, the gun owners and Second Amendment supporters responsible for getting places like Atlantic County to adopt pro-2A resolutions can’t rest once that vote has been taken. They need to continue to press their local lawmakers as well as their state representatives and senators to take bold stands in defense of their right to keep and bear arms.
Democrats in the state house are divided over Murphy’s call to make it a financial burden to exercise a constitutional right, with State Senate President Steve Sweeney (who helped block a similar fee increase in 2019) saying he doesn’t believe the state needs any new taxes beyond a tax increase on millionaires. If New Jersey’s gun owners stay engaged and involved, both in Trenton and in their towns and counties, I think they have a real shot at defeating Murphy’s proposal. If the local movements fade away after their 2A resolutions pass, on the other hand, gun owners in the Garden State will have squandered an opportunity to grow their numbers and influence. I’d hate to see that happen, but I’m sure Gov. Murphy would be thrilled.