Murphy vows to reintroduce failed gun control package

Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy failed to win approval for his sweeping package of gun control bills in the lame duck session of the state legislature held after November’s elections, but during his State of the State speech on Tuesday, the Democrat pledged to reintroduce the wide-ranging legislation in the 2022 session.

Perhaps taking a page from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s sought to tie the issues of gun control and abortion together, Murphy pledged to protect a woman’s right to choose an abortion just before calling on the legislature to restrict her right to armed self-defense.

I thank and congratulate the Legislature on passing and sending to my desk a bill that will secure a woman’s access to reproductive care and her right to choose into state law. These decisions must be kept between a woman and her doctor, period.

I will sign this into law this week. And I am especially proud that we are getting this done before the United States Supreme Court renders its ruling challenging Roe v Wade, which it is poised to overturn.

And I urge the Legislature to once again take up the next phase of commonsense and comprehensive gun-safety reforms. We cannot go another year without closing dangerous loopholes, requiring safety education for would-be gun buyers, giving law enforcement new tools to go after criminals, and banning super-high-caliber weapons which have no place in the woods for hunting, let alone on our streets.

Murphy’s anti-gun wish list includes criminalizing possession of .50 caliber rifles, imposing mandatory training requirements on all would-be gun owners, microstamping mandates on all new handguns sold in the state, mandatory storage measures so draconian they would make it nearly impossible to use a gun in self-defense, and allowing New Jersey residents to sue gun makers and sellers for the actions of criminals under the state’s public nuisance statute.

The governor laughably claimed that none of the bills will have any impact on law-abiding gun owners, but in December the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol clubs called Murphy out for his legislative lies.

“We have no issue with law-abiding Second Amendment folks,” he added at his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “That’s not our objective. And I think the packages we’ve already seen passed, as well as this prospective package, all continue to get at making our state responsibly, sensibly, and reasonably the strongest gun-safety state in America.”

But Scott Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, disagreed.

“Not one of Governor Murphy’s schemes punishes gun crime — instead, every single one interferes with the Constitutional right of honest citizens to defend themselves in an emergency,” Bach said. “Whatever we don’t defeat in the legislature we will defeat in the courts.”

It’s not just that none of these ideas actually target violent criminals. They’re going to create criminals out of otherwise law-abiding residents, as well as placing an impermissible burden on those trying to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

The big reason why Murphy’s bad bills didn’t get to his desk last month is because Steve Sweeney, the outgoing state Senate president, never called them for a vote. Sweeney, who was defeated by dark horse Republican candidate Ed Durr in a shocking upset in November, has always been hard to pin down on the gun issue. He’s supported plenty of gun control legislation in the past, but he’s also tangled with the governor over Second Amendment issues on multiple occasions in the last couple of years.

Sweeney’s no longer in the Senate, however, and new Senate president Nicholas Scutari, another Democrat, is likely going to be more amenable to the governor’s demands. Garden State gun owners are going to have their work cut out for them this year, and may very well end up fighting some of these bills in court and not just the state capitol.

Jul 03, 2022 8:30 AM ET