A double standard on "safe storage" for guns and cannabis?

A double standard on "safe storage" for guns and cannabis?
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio File)

There are not too many safe havens in New Jersey to get news. There are some conservative pundits I follow and pretty much one radio station I’ll tune into. NJ 101.5 is “conservative” for NJ’s standards, with some personalities weaving through some left of center ideas. From a liberty perspective, they really do embrace what freedom is, regardless of political party or leaning. I appreciate a good deal of their programming, and if I’m not listening to freedom oriented podcasts like Bearing Arms’s own Cam and Co, I’m tuned into what’s happening over at New Jersey’s own radio station (Not New York’s, not Philadelphia’s). More often than not, I’m finding myself writing in to their commenters to sing them praise over so-called gun issues that get written about on their online news side, rather than chastise them. But, a recent piece by Eric Scott (who’s reporting I enjoy) unfairly compares a proposal to lock up weed products from a lawmaker that voted against a recent gun storage bill.

A New Jersey assemblyman who voted against locking up guns to protect children is now sponsoring a bill to force New Jersey residents to lock up any cannabis products.

The legislation from Asm. Kevin Rooney, R-Wyckoff, would require state residents to place any cannabis products in a locked container.

“If adults choose to purchase legally distributed cannabis products, that is their prerogative under the new state law,” Rooney said in a statement, “But they must be held accountable to prevent these products from getting into the hands of children who could unknowingly consume unsafe amounts and cause health issues.”

The nuance to this argument is that there’s already a firearm storage law in New Jersey. 

2C:58-15. Minor’s access to a loaded firearm; penalty, conditions

1. a. A person who knows or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to a loaded firearm at a premises under the person’s control commits a disorderly persons offense if a minor gains access to the firearm, unless the person:
(1) Stores the firearm in a securely locked box or container;
(2) Stores the firearm in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure; or
(3) Secures the firearm with a trigger lock.
2. This section shall not apply:
(1) To activities authorized by section 14 of P.L.1979, c.179, (C.2C:58-6.1), concerning the lawful use of a firearm by a minor; or
(2) Under circumstances where a minor obtained a firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.
c. As used in this act, “minor” means a person under the age of 16.

It’s already illegal to leave a firearm accessible to a minor in the state, so what’s all the hub-bub about? As for weed, what’s the current statute that governs that? Weed IS an illegal substance according to federal law, so we’re kinda splitting hairs here a little, don’t ya think? People that want to say “Weed is legal in New Jersey” or other states for that matter are mistaken. These jurisdictions have opted to not enforce the federal law on the subject, which yes needs revision/repeal.

While cannabis products are sold in the form of soft-chews and lozenges, New Jersey dispensaries are not allowed to sell “brownies and cookies and things along those lines.”

Rooney has joined with fellow Republicans in opposing the majority of gun control bills. Last year, he voted against the Safe Storage of Firearms Act, which would require residents to unload guns and keep them secured in a locked container.

NJ Globe noted the similarities between the two laws, but Rooney explained: “In the Constitution, it speaks in the Second Amendment about the right to bear arms. I’ve read the Constitution many times, and there’s nothing in there about the legalization of marijuana.”

Interestingly enough one of these items is protected by the US Constitution and not New Jersey’s Constitution, and the other is protected by New Jersey’s Constitution and not the US Constitution. Figuring out which is which should be a no brainer.

The many multiple issues with making this comparison, besides the obvious from a liberty perspective, is that the proposed law on firearm storage was to mandate that the firearms be stored locked up and unloaded, with ammunition in a separate locked container. There was and is no provision allowing for a person to keep a loaded firearm available for self-defense. Even one in a locked “quick access” box, that’s loaded, was not considered allowable under the proposed bill.

One of the core things challenged in the Heller case, amongst other things, was the District’s regulation on storage of firearms. In a post NYSRPA v. Bruen world, with Heller and McDonald as well, it’s patently absurd to think it’s constitutional to force someone to store a firearm unloaded and separate from the ammunition if it’s to be used for self-defense. These cases point blank note the core purpose of owning a firearm is for self-defense. 

It might be attractive to jump on the bandwagon to point out what seems like a disparity in legislation, it’s really not. While Eric Scott’s reporting is just that, reporting, he is a news guy, there’s a lot of missing context to bringing up this topic that’s worthy of more than a couple hundred words. Again, one of these items is against the law.