Exercising your right to keep and bear arms could soon be more expensive in New Jersey, at least if Gov. Phil Murphy gets his way. The anti-gun governor unveiled a new budget proposal on Tuesday that’s ostensibly meant to plug some of the holes in the state budget caused by coronavirus closures, but looks an awful lot like an attack on the Second Amendment rights of residents.
Under Murphy’s plan, the cost of a Firearms ID card, which is necessary to own a long gun in the state, would rise from $5 to $100. Pistol purchase permits, which are required for every handgun purchase in the state, would also increase from the $2 it currently costs to $50.
Murphy has long sought an increase in the amount of money would-be gun owners have to fork over to the state before they can keep arms, but his fellow Democrat and state Senate president Steve Sweeney has previously been opposed to the tax hike. Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Sweeney again sounded a note of resistance to the governor’s budget plans, as NJ.com’s Paul Munshine reported.
Only a small portion of Murphy’s rhetoric dealt with the actual budget. He began with a long peroration on the pandemic. Then we were treated to a mention of “the senseless murder of George Floyd” and a repetition of the sentiment that “black lives matter.”
That got him a standing ovation from the audience, which seemed to be made up mainly of loyal Democrats. But what did it have to do with the budget?
There was one Democrat present who will have an equal say with the governor in determining the document that must be signed into law by Sept. 30. That’s Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Sweeney did not sound pleased by the prospect. The budget for the new fiscal year was supposed to be enacted by July 1, but the Legislature extended that deadline by three months because of the pandemic.
“We made a mistake,” said Sweeney. “No other state delayed its budget.”
But for that delay, the budget would have been settled for the 2021 Fiscal Year. Now, Sweeney said, the Legislature has only about three weeks to craft a budget bill that usually takes three months.
Murphy’s move to make it more expensive to exercise a constitutional right comes as a record number of residents have applied for permission to own a gun in recent months, and if enacted, would make it much more difficult for lower-income residents to legally purchase a firearm for self-defense. That may not be Murphy’s stated intent, but the governor doesn’t seem to be bothered by the thought of good people in bad neighborhoods being unable to afford to protect themselves and their families.
Democrats are in firm control of both chambers of the state legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion, so the budget battle largely be a blue-on-blue affair, with most Republicans almost certain to vote against Murphy’s proposal. New Jersey gun owners will hopefully be inundating their lawmakers with phone calls, emails, and letters in opposition to any attempt to impose a financial burden on gun owners in the state. The biggest question now is whether or not those lawmakers will listen to the voices of those most affected by the governor’s anti-gun budget proposal.