On Monday, the New Jersey Assembly used a multi-step process to successfully block Governor Chris Christie from taking a baby step toward correcting a major infringement of citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
Under current law, applicants for a permit to carry a handgun must show a “justifiable need,” a phrase courts have interpreted to mean “specific threats” or “previous attacks.” It’s a high bar that many gun groups say is impossible to meet but one that state and federal courts have upheld as a reasonable and constitutional public-safety measure.
In May, Christie finally took a small step to extend the right to bear arms to more residents of the Garden State. Calling New Jersey’s gun laws ‘too restrictive’, Christie joined with the state Attorney General’s Office to propose a third category be added. That category would allow permits to be issued to individuals who could justify a need to carry a handgun to protect themselves from “serious threats.”
In documents filed as part of the process to amend the regulations, the Attorney General’s Office gave examples of the types of people who would be eligible for a permit to carry a handgun under the proposed rules.
“One such situation could be a taxi driver who works nights in a particular precinct where armed assailants recently and on multiple occasions had flagged down cabs at night and robbed and shot the drivers,” the Attorney General’s Office wrote. “Another example of a serious but not specific threat may be where the applicant is an eyewitness to a murder committed by the member of a street gang that has engaged in systematic and dangerous witness intimidation and retaliation.”
Predictably, New Jersey’s anti-gun lawmakers claimed a “serious threats” standard was “too vague”, putting more guns on the streets and risking public safety.
Will the Garden State ever be able to lift the infringements on citizens’ Second Amendment rights?