After a fierce 90 minute debate on Monday, the New Jersey Assembly approved a massive piece of legislation that critics say is designed to impede, not protect, the right to bear arms in self-defense.
The bill passed along party lines, with all of the chamber’s Republicans voting against the measure. Still the 42 votes in favor of the bill is enough to send the legislation to the state Senate, where it’s expected to gain passage and, once it’s signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, face a court challenge as well.
Under the current language of A4769, the lawful carrying of firearms would be banned in a number of publicly-accessible places including public transportation, parks, and restaurants that serve alcohol. In addition, the bill in its current form would require all concealed carry licensees to obtain a liability insurance policy; a requirement not found in any other state.
The debate over the new gun control bill was contentious, with primary sponsor Joe Danielsen claiming that the bill” strikes the important balance between respecting and protecting people’s Second Amendment rights,” while critics like Assemblyman Hal Wirths and others pointed out that Democrats are cracking down on legal gun owners, not violent criminals.
“The real problem is the criminal, the bad guys and bad gals,” Wirths said. “But no, we don’t want to target them. We want to target the most law-abiding citizens who are well trained and go through these background checks. And it’s just like I said, since day one … the real goal among many of you, quite frankly, is to take the guns away.”
The exchanges got even more heated after that, with many Republicans saying the bill violates the Second Amendment.
… Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, called the bill “nothing more than a legislative insurrection against our Constitution.”
“That’s a threat to our democracy,” Peterson added, loudly arguing Democrats have a “history of taking away our constitutional rights.”
Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer, R-Gloucester, called the bill “offensive” and argued it would leave people unarmed in the face of danger.
“You’ve got to see the blood on your hands as people are getting killed,” Sawyer said. “We should be able to protect ourselves.”
… Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris, argued the proposal “directly contradicts” the Supreme Court’s ruling, as well.
Then, he asked Danielsen to define a phrase in the measure that says it would be a crime to knowingly carry a gun into safe spaces unless it’s “a brief, incidental entry onto property.”
Danielsen said no.
”I think you should consult an attorney or the dictionary,” he said. “I’m not going to take these hypothetical, creative scenarios.”
Bergen shot back: “This is the lunacy, the stupidity, quite frankly, of the approach you take.”
Bergen was then caught on mic saying under his breath about Danielsen: “God, he’s such an a**hole.”
After a reporter tweeted that comment, Bergen replied: “I did say it. And I meant it.”
I don’t blame him, honestly. If the legislation actually contains a section related to “brief, incidental” forays into “gun-free zones,” then it’s not all that hypothetical or unusual a situation to ponder. And since the bill describes those “brief, incidental” entries, it shouldn’t be too difficult for bill sponsors to define what that would look like.
Of course, there are a lot of details that supporters don’t really want to talk about, as the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs recently laid out in an alert to members:
Among many other things, this legislation would impermissibly:-Ban carry in common public places by labeling them as “sensitive places.”Includes parks, beaches, restaurants, theaters, stadiums, arenas, and many other common public places.;-Bans carry at public gatherings;-Significantly increase fees for purchaser credentials and carry permits, discriminating against low-income citizens;-Mandate liability insurance(which may not even be available) as a pre-condition to exercising carry rights;-Mandate a new training requirement beyond the already-difficult one that has existed for many decades;-Allow towns and cities to invent their own unique and inconsistent rules banning carry;-Use prior speech (like online posts) as a basis to deny purchase and carry credentials;-Allow denial of credentials based on purely subjective factors like someone’s “character” or “temperament.”