FBI warns of threat to NJ synagogues while lawmakers work to prohibit self-defense

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

The FBI is warning the Jewish community in New Jersey of a “broad threat” to local synagogues, urging worshippers to “take all security precautions to protect your community and facility.” Unfortunately, in the Garden State taking the precaution of carrying a concealed firearm in a house of worship is not a realistic possibility at the moment, and New Jersey Democrats are doing their best to keep it that way; something not likely to stop anyone planning on carrying out an attack, but a provision that will ensure any potential attacker has a host of unarmed and defenseless victims.

In response to the FBI warning, the state’s anti-gun Attorney General and governor both pledged to increase police presence around synagogues, but were silent about their desire to prevent as many residents as possible from exercising their right to bear arms in self-defense.

“Law enforcement will be increasing patrols in sensitive areas,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in a statement. “Some of these patrols will be in marked vehicles and others will not — but please do not be alarmed if you observe an increase in police presence as we are taking these steps in an abundance of caution.”

Platkin also urged residents “to be extra vigilant” and report any suspicious activity to the police.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted that he’s in touch with the FBI, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are working with local law enforcement to ensure that all houses of worship are protected,” the governor said.

The problem, of course, is that there’s no way to ensure that every synagogue is going to actually be protected by law enforcement.

In its current form, the concealed carry legislation that New Jersey Democrats are hoping to enshrine into law in the coming weeks does not specifically prohibit concealed carry holders from carrying in a house of worship; a recent change that may have something to do with the fact that enforcement of a similar provision included in New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act has been halted by a federal judge. Still, while the New Jersey bill may technically allow for concealed carry in churches, synagogues, mosques, and other worship centers, the legislation also attempts to limit the exercise of that right to as few people as possible.

Among other things, the amended legislation, which could undergo further changes before it’s brought to the floor of the Assembly and Senate for a vote, hikes the fees that New Jersey residents must pay before they can lawfully carry, mandates they purchase a liability insurance policy, and will impose yet-to-be-determined training mandates that will undoubtably be a costly and time consuming burden on those wanting to carry a firearm for self-defense. Critics have warned that the bill is a lawsuit waiting to happen, but so far anti-gun lawmakers seem okay with that eventuality.

… supporters and critics spent nearly three hours debating the bill Thursday, with some especially testy exchanges between the panel’s Democratic members and Sen. Ed Durr (R-Gloucester), whose political campaign centered on Second Amendment rights.

“If I were to sit here and list all the problems with this bill, we’d be here until sometime next week,” Durr told the panel.

Durr especially objected to the increased fees proposed in the legislation, complaining they would “make it impossible for a person of modest means to protect him- or herself.”

He questioned the state’s ongoing effort to reduce its prison population while tightening gun control at the same time.

“You were making room (in prison) for all the responsible but unlucky gun owners who are going to unintentionally violate this bill,” he said.

Sen. Nia Gill (D- Essex) pushed back on some of Durr’s claims about the bill violating the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s June ruling.

“I’m a lawyer,” Gill told Durr.

He responded, “I’ve seen many lawyers get things wrong.”

Gill retorted: “I’ve seen legislators get them wrong too.”

After almost three hours of testimony, the panel advanced the bill.

“This is an exercise in legislation that we must do in order for the court to determine the legislative constitutionality of it,” Gill said.

It would be nice if New Jersey Democrats wanted to err on the side of the Constitution rather than enshrine a host of new infringements on the right to keep and bear arms in the hopes that the courts will keep some of those of those provisions in place, but that’s not how the gun control movement operates. Instead, thanks to the state’s previous restrictive “may issue” laws and the glacial pace of issuing carry permits since the Bruen decision was handed down, there are only a small number of New Jersey residents who can lawfully carry a firearm in self-defense at the moment, and even those few individuals are too many for the anti-gun majority in Trenton. Whether the threat is a carjacker, a mugger, or an active shooter in a sanctuary, Gov. Murphy and his allies believe that the only proper response is for you to cower in fear and hope that the police arrive in time.