New Jersey’s legislative response to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen is officially on the move and being fast-tracked for a vote right around Election Day, but the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs is vowing a beefy legal challenge once the new restrictions on the right to bear arms have been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, ANJRPC executive director Scott Bach joins me to talk about Monday’s hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which approved A4769 on a party-line vote of 3-2. Bach was there and testified in opposition to the legislation, but says it was clear that the anti-gun Democrats comprising the majority are uninterested in what New Jersey gun owners or the Supreme Court has to say.
The fast-tracked legislation would forbid guns in 25 public areas, such as schools, beaches, and government buildings; create a rigorous 60-day vetting process for concealed carry applicants; expand disqualifying criteria prohibiting gun ownership; increase permit fees; and require liability insurance and gun safety training. About 300,000 New Jerseyans have applied for permits to carry guns since the Bruen ruling.
Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset), an Army veteran and gun owner, is the bill’s prime sponsor. He urged his colleagues to advance “common sense” measures he said would ensure the incidence of gun violence in New Jersey — already among the lowest in the nation — would remain low.
“With such an immense responsibility as just simply being a firearm owner, this is increased a hundred-fold when you’re carrying out in public,” Danielsen said. “Can you imagine if this room right now was filled with concealed carry people? I would not want that. We need rules.”
Even Constitutional Carry states have rules governing the behavior of those who are lawfully carrying. That’s not what A4769 is about, however. Instead, Bach says it’s designed to prevent responsible gun owners from carrying in self-defense. For example, Bach notes that the many “sensitive places” defined by the legislation includes public transportation, privately-owned vehicles, all private property, and even publicly accessible parking lots. According to Bach, Democrats in the legislature are paying lip service to the Bruen decision, but are flagrantly ignoring the intent behind the law, which clearly established that carrying a firearm in self-defense is a fundamental right. From the sweeping number of “gun-free zones” to the requirement that concealed carry holders purchase liability insurance in addition to paying hefty training and application fees, it’s plainly evident that the goal of anti-gun lawmakers is to prevent concealed carry by as many responsible gun owners as possible.
Throughout the hearing, legislators and advocates debated whether any gun restrictions, if passed, would fall to constitutional challenges, with a conservative majority controlling the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We’re putting in place a law that does not conform with the Second Amendment,” Flynn said. “It’s going to be challenged, and we’re going to spend a lot of dollars defending it.”
McKeon countered: “I do have a law degree, and I disagree with you, and I bet I’m not the only person.”
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), the committee’s chair, acknowledged that “portions of the bill may still be constitutionally infirm” and agreed any legislation passed likely will be challenged.
Bach’s group already has challenged other gun control restrictions in New Jersey. Monday, he warned legislators to prepare for court on this bill too.
“My organization will challenge anything that doesn’t carry constitutional muster, we will win, and you will pay our legal fees,” he said.
Diane Dresdale cheered the panel on.
“Any law that is passed is going to be challenged. We have to accept that, but that doesn’t mean this representative body should not pursue legislation that is going to make our state safer,” said Dresdale, of the National Council of Jewish Women. “We have many, many more people waiting to get guns, and that alone should indicate that we need this legislation.”
According to some estimates, as many as 300,000 New Jerseyans have already applied for their carry license since the Bruen decision was handed down. While gun owners and Second Amendment supporters like myself see that number as a clear sign that the right to carry has been artificially repressed by lawmakers, anti-gun activists like Dresdale seem truly convinced that continuing to criminalize the right of self-defense is somehow noble or morally righteous.
While the gun control lobby is likely to get its way in the legislature, Bach says that Second Amendment advocates have some “tricks up their sleeve” that he believes will prove embarrassing to those pledging massive resistance to recognizing the rights of residents. And once Gov. Phil Murphy puts pen to paper and signs these new restrictions into law, Bach says the ANJRPC will be filing a federal lawsuit to challenge the law in court. The group is already the named plaintiff in a case taking on New Jersey’s magazine ban; a case that the Supreme Court accepted just a few months ago, vacating the Third Circuit decision that upheld the ban and sending the case back to lower courts for review in light of what SCOTUS had to say in Bruen. Bach tells Bearing Arms that the lower courts might go out of their way to uphold New Jersey’s proposed restrictions, but he doesn’t believe the Supreme Court will be nearly as kind to the new wave of infringements soon to be imposed on the Second Amendment in the Garden State.