If you’re a gun owner in New Jersey, good news can be hard to find. The state has some of the most ridiculously onerous gun control laws in the country, and Gov. Phil Murphy is always eager to find another way to crack down on those exercising their Second Amendment rights. The governor was thwarted in his most recent effort to target legal gun owners, however, thanks to his fellow Democrats who control the state legislature.

Murphy had proposed a huge increase in taxes and fees on gun owners in his most recent budget; raising the cost of a permit to purchase a pistol from $2 to $50, increasing the fee for a Firearm ID card (required to own long guns in the state) from $5 to $100, and jacking up taxes on firearms by an extra 2.5% with a new 10% tax on all ammunition.

While the governor had demanded these increases in the past without success, Murphy was hoping that the budget deficit caused by his COVID-19 closures would encourage his fellow Democrats to sign off on his anti-gun budget this year. Earlier this week, however, the state legislature finalized a budget deal that does raise taxes on millionaires in the state, but leaves gun owners alone, at least for now.

Gov. Phil Murphy and his fellow Democrats who lead the New Jersey Legislature have agreed on a state budget deal that raises taxes on high-income earners and HMOs while extending a 2.5-percentage point surtax on corporations with over $1 million in income.

The agreement also jettisons Murphy’s other proposed tax increases on sales of cigarettes, firearms, boat sales, limousine rides and a tax on opioid manufacturers, according to two legislative sources who were not authorized to publicly discuss the plan and requested anonymity.

As New Jersey talk show host Dennis Malloy writes, even though gun owners may have been spared the enormous tax increases on their Second Amendment rights, Murphy isn’t likely to give up on his quest to price the right to keep and bear arms out of the hands of some lower-income residents.

What he wanted was a 2,400 percent increase in the the handgun purchasing fee, a 1,900 percent increase in the firearm ID card fee and so on. What other area could you even suggest such outrageous tax increases and show your face in public. Well, he and a lot of his supporters think gun owners are knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who deserve no respect or regard from the state or the public. But more members of the New Jersey public are reconsidering their thoughts on gun ownership in the light of violent events this year and the dissing of police departments everywhere. So applications for gun permits are at record-high levels.

In New Jersey, for instance, applications were up 250% just in the first six months of this year and will continue to rise, given the images we’ve seen this summer. And who knows what will happen as we get closer to a very heated election coming up. The new budget is in and Uncle Phil had to drop the legal gun owners taxes in favor of other more popular taxes amounting to about $700 million. But those are mostly on corporations and millionaires. You know, those corporations and millionaires that will be smart enough to flee this money gouging state soon enough. Guess who will be holding the bag? Are you near a mirror?

Malloy is spot-on here. Murphy may not have been able to screw over gun owners with his new budget, but you know he’ll try again, and if the tax hike on corporations and high-income residents results in many of them leaving the state, the budgetary black hole will only grow even larger and gun owners will once again present a tempting target for lawmakers. New Jersey gun owners can celebrate the good news in this year’s budget deal, but they know they still have a target on their back when it comes to Phil Murphy and his anti-gun zealotry.