Murphy launches renewed assault on Second Amendment

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The New Jersey legislature failed to pass Gov. Phil Murphy’s package of gun control laws that he introduced in the lame duck session held last December, and Garden State lawmakers haven’t expressed much interest in taking up the legislation in the months since. Now, however, the governor is mounting a new push for his stale and tired restrictions on law-abiding citizens and is calling on lawmakers to approve the sweeping restrictions aimed directly at the Second Amendment rights of New Jersey residents.

What’s Murphy calling for? Well, here’s a list straight from the governor’s press office.

  • Requiring Firearm Safety Training:  A-993 (Reynolds-Jackson) would require completion of a firearm safety course to receive a permit to purchase a gun or receive a firearm ID card.
  • Mandating Safe Storage of Firearms: Gun owners would be required to store guns in a lockbox or gun safe. (For reference: A-2215 (Greenwald), the “New Jersey Safe Storage of Firearms Act”)

Look, I’m a big believer in the value of both firearms training and responsible gun storage, but I’m not a fan of mandates like these, especially when they would make it more difficult to exercise your constitutionally-protected rights. You shouldn’t need a government-issued permission slip to bear arms, and you damn sure shouldn’t need one to keep a gun in your home, but the training mandate and storage requirements would impact the ability of New Jersey residents to lawfully keep a gun in their home for self-defense while not doing anything to stop violent criminals.

  • Banning .50 Caliber Firearms: S-1416 (Gill) would revise the definition of “destructive device” under New Jersey law so that it includes weapons of .50 caliber or greater.
  • Closing Loophole for Importing Out-of-State Firearms:  A-1179/S-1204 (Jasey/Cryan) would require firearm owners who move to New Jersey to obtain a firearm purchaser identification card (FPIC) and register their firearms within 60 days of residing in this State.
  • Raising Minimum Age to Purchase Long Guns to 21:  A-509/S-504 (Freiman/Cryan) would raise from 18 to 21 the age at which a person is eligible to receive a firearms purchaser identification card used to purchase shotguns and rifles.

More laws aimed at the law-abiding. Murphy’s been trying to ban .50 caliber firearms since he’s been in office, despite the fact that they’re hardly the weapon of choice for Garden State (and garden variety) criminals. Raising the age limit to purchase a firearm to 21 is another favored tactic of the gun control lobby, but one that’s been met with some legal success, though the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in. As for the gun registration requirement for new residents, how on earth is that possibly going to be proactively enforced, and why does the state of New Jersey need to keep tabs on legal gun owners to begin with?

But wait, there’s more! Murphy also wants to go after the firearms industry as well as legal gun owners.

  • Establishing Electronic Ammunition Sales Recordkeeping: A-1302 (Greenwald) would require manufacturers or dealers of handgun ammunition to keep a detailed electronic record of ammunition sales, and report ammunition sales to the State Police.
  • Promoting Microstamping Technology: S-1462/A-2216 (Codey/Greenwald) would require within a year that firearm manufacturers incorporate microstamping technology into new handguns sold in New Jersey, providing law enforcement with a tool to quickly link firearm cartridge casings found at the scene of a crime to a specific firearm, without having to recover the firearm itself.

Nothing creepy or Orwellian about the state wanting a list of everyone who buys ammunition, right? But what about those gun owners who decide to drive over to Pennsylvania or down to Delaware to buy their ammo instead? I’m honestly surprised that Murphy hasn’t taken a page out of California’s ammunition restrictions by proposing a ban on bringing ammo purchased out-of-state into New Jersey.

Microstamping, on the other hand, has been on the books in California for more than a decade, and the only thing it’s accomplished is blocking the sale of any new models of handguns, since it’s virtually impossible to comply with the state’s law.

Holding the Gun Industry Accountable:  In New Jersey, almost 80% of guns used in crimes are originally purchased outside of the state.  However, the gun industry has failed to take any steps to stem the flow of guns to the illegal market through gun shows, flea markets, straw purchasers, and theft.  The Governor proposes amending the state’s public nuisance laws to prohibit the gun industry from endangering the safety or health of the public through its sale, manufacturing, importing, or marketing of guns.  (For reference: A-1765/S-1893 (McKeon/Ruiz).

This is just an attempt to get around the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and to blame the firearms industry for the actions of criminals. A similar bill has been introduced in California, and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a variation of this bill before he left office in disgrace last year.

I can’t help but notice that none of Murphy’s proposed laws are actually aimed at those responsible for violent crime in the state. This isn’t about public safety, in other words. It’s about cracking down on those deplorable citizens of New Jersey who dare to exercise their Second Amendment rights, as well as trying to bankrupt the firearms industry by holding them responsible for illegal acts committed with a gun. New Jersey lawmakers were right not to give Murphy’s package a vote last year, and they should swiftly consign these bills to the dustbin of history. Given that this is New Jersey we’re talking about, however, Garden State gun owners need to gear up for a legislative fight, and should be contacting their local legislators now to demand they reject Murphy’s latest assault on the Second Amendment.