"The car-jacking protection bill": attorney blasts NJ's proposed carry laws

"The car-jacking protection bill": attorney blasts NJ's proposed carry laws
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

As we reported a couple of days ago, New Jersey lawmakers are set to borrow several hundred pages from New York in their quest to keep residents from exercising their right to carry, with proposed legislation that would enact a host of “gun-free zones” and add in additional layers of bureaucratic red tape and government-mandated costs and fees for all those wanting to bear arms in self-defense. The legislation is being fast-tracked through the legislature right now, with the measure advancing out of an Assembly committee on a party-line vote earlier today.

Second Amendment attorney Evan Nappen has taken a look at the legislative wishlist from New Jersey Democrats, and says there’s no way the courts will uphold the proposed restrictions under the test laid out by the Supreme Court in NYSRPA v. Bruen.

“It should be known as the car-jacking protection bill,” Nappen said, alluding to the proposal that would list a gun owner’s own car among the places where a firearm should be tightly locked away.

“We’re going to see an injunction,” he said. “They’re attempting to basically eliminate the utility of having the means of self-defense.”

That, sadly, is par for the course for most New Jersey politicians. The state constitution is one of the few in the nation that contains no reference or protection for the right to keep and bear arms, and Democrats in the state have long refused to treat gun ownership as a right, viewing it instead as a privilege that might be doled out to a favored few. The Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen has, if anything, caused Democrats like Gov. Phil Murphy to double-down on their animosity towards the Second Amendment and the right to carry; something that Nappen says will have a disproportionate impact on lower-income residents, including those stuck in high-crime neighborhoods.

“The whole point of the carry permit is to be able to protect yourself, particularly when you’re in your vehicle,” he said.

He also assailed proposed provisions that would increase permitting fees and enact training requirements in addition to the insurance.

“You’re going to hav e to buy insurance, pay for the training course, the ammo for the training, a $200 fee,” Nappen said, arguing that the proposal makes it prohibitively expensive for poor people to arm themselves.

“The idea is those folks who can least afford it and need protection the most can’t do it,” he said.

Again, this is nothing new. When the state was operating under it’s “may issue” laws, most of the folks who were granted carry permits were prosecutors, judges, and others who were well-connected to local politicians and law enforcement. You didn’t see too many single moms in Camden or Paterson being approved to carry a firearm in self-defense, even if they just wanted to be able to protect their kids in their own neighborhoods.

Now that the “may issue” laws have been struck down, anti-gun Democrats are just trying to replicate the unconstitutional law’s effect while pretending to pay lip service to the Supreme Court’s decision.

Two people close to the governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss pending legislation, said Murphy expects a full-court press against state Democrats’ proposed gun control measures. But they argued the governor was confident he would prevail.

… One person close to the governor, who declined to speak on the record because they were not authorized to discuss pending legislation, said Murphy’s administration has spent time been gaming out how to construct a concealed carry law that prohibits firearms from sensitive areas without running afoul of the high court’s decision.

“There was a delay compared to New York, and the result of that delay was pretty detailed outreach and conversations about how far, legally, the New Jersey Legislature is willing to go, post-Bruen (the Supreme Court ruling),” the person said.

The answer, at least according to those Democrats who’ve spoken out, is that they’re willing to go even further than New York in terms of “sensitive places” by, for instance, banning concealed carry in private vehicles as well as on public transportation. I’m surprised lawmakers didn’t think to include a provision banning concealed carry on horseback or unicycles as well.

Even if New York’s laws are put on hold by the federal courts while the various lawsuits make their way to the Supreme Court for potential review, I don’t anticipate that having much of an impact on the coming fight in New Jersey. It’s the Third, not the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that’s controlling over the Garden State, so an injunction in New York won’t have any legal standing on New Jersey’s restrictions. While I’d like to believe that New York’s laws getting put on ice would convince at least a few Jersey Democrats to give up on their infringement binge, I’m not that naive. Phil Murphy, who’s eyeing up a run for president in two years, simply won’t allow that to happen.

In fact, Murphy would love to take this all the way to the Supreme Court; if he were to somehow pull out a victory he’d be the gun control lobby’s biggest hero in decades, but even if (or more likely, when) he loses he can always play to his base by complaining about (and fundraising off of) “activist judges subverting the will of the people” by not allowing “common sense gun safety laws” or some twaddle like that. As for those New Jerseyans who want to protect themselves and their families in increasingly dangerous communities, it’s clear that Murphy and his Democratic allies consider both them and their rights as little more than cannon fodder for the culture wars.