New Jersey Governor's move on liquor licenses about guns?

Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool

There are plenty of times when a hypothesis has earned an eye roll, with dot connection being a stretch beyond belief. But, this idea might have some merit. New Jersey’s government is beyond corrupt. Consider the liquor license process in the Garden State. New Jersey rations out liquor licenses so strictly, that a very profitable and expensive secondary market has been running the scene on who gets to booz, and who does not. Governor Phil Murphy, N.J. – Democrat, who seems to have presidential aspirations, recently announced a “Statewide, Bipartisan Coalition of “Mayors for Liquor License Reform.” The announcement was about changing the eligibility requirements to get a liquor license to make the system more “equitable.” Is it possible this is about guns?

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Speaking at the New Jersey Conference of Mayors 58th Annual Spring Conference in Atlantic City today, Governor Phil Murphy announced the formation of a bipartisan coalition of mayors from across New Jersey who support the Murphy Administration’s comprehensive plan to reform and modernize New Jersey’s antiquated, Prohibition-era liquor license laws.

The coalition – “Mayors for Liquor License Reform” – includes 90 charter members who represent urban, suburban, and rural towns across a vast swath of New Jersey, all of which would benefit from the economic development generated by modernizing the State’s liquor license laws to make them more affordable, equitable, and accessible.

“These mayors come from counties across the state. They represent more than one million residents of historic small towns, growing townships, and mid-sized cities,” said Governor Murphy. “But most important, they represent hundreds of small restaurants whose owners are being left out – and whose investments in their establishments are being left at-risk – because they do not have access to the liquor license that can allow them to better compete and stay in business. They understand the patent unfairness of our current liquor law regime and the significant local economic benefits that our proposed reforms would bring.”

At least Murphy is going after one prohibition-era law that’s in need of overhaul. Forget the history of New Jersey’s gun laws and how they were directly tied to prohibition-era New Jersey.

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There are proponents of seeing a regulatory change, broadening where people can get their buzz on, giving businesses who don’t have a license a shot at selling liquor. The opponents say that by doing this, it’ll devalue the licenses and businesses of those who are already operating in business.

As a fan of deregulation, I feel that in New Jersey, not only should a person be readily able to buy a case of beer at the gas station, but I dare declare that the citizens should be able to pump their own gas! Less regulation is good, no?

Turning back the clock to December of 2022, when Assemblyman Joe Danilesen fortified his status as one of the biggest jackassess in New Jersey political history – in my opinion – , let’s take a look at A4769. A4769, colloquially dubbed the “carry killer” bill, was a bill signed into law by Governor Murphy. The bill was allegedly written by Danielsen, however that’s doubtful given the extremely piss-poor intellectual performance he provided when trying to defend the unconstitutional mess during committee meetings. In short, I’m in the camp that Danilensen does not have the gray matter to pull something like that off. That being said, one of the provisions in his unconstitutional law involved the prohibition of carrying a firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

From P.L. 2022, CHAPTER 131, approved December 22, 2022:

a. Except as otherwise provided in this section and in the case of a brief, incidental entry onto property, which shall be deemed a de minimis infraction within the contemplation of N.J.S.2C:2-11, it shall be a crime of the third degree for any person, other than a  person lawfully carrying a firearm within the authorized scope of an exemption set forth in N.J.S.2C:39-6, to knowingly carry a firearm as defined in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-1 and a crime of the second degree to knowingly possess a destructive device as defined in subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:39-1 in any of the following places, including in or upon any part of the buildings, grounds, or parking area of:

[…]

(15) a bar or restaurant where alcohol is served, and any other site or facility where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises;

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Governor Phil Murphy and Assemblyman Joe Danilsen’s Christmas present to permit to carry holders in New Jersey were a pile of prohibitions on where one shall not carry. As noted, of those places are “bar[s] or restaurant[s] where alcohol is served” or other places where it’s sold for consumption. As well as the associated parking lots.

Luckily though, two different temporary restraining orders, through two lawsuits, this prohibition has been halted. Any day now we should be hearing about a preliminary injunction concerning many measures in the unconstitutional Danielsen law. But as it stands, this is only temporarily restrained from being executed.

The state of New Jersey is rather hubris. Governor Murphy, the legislature, and yes many of the judges, have been acting like petulant children over the fact the Second Amendment has been found to be valid outside the home for self-defense. Judges, when they were responsible for issuing permits to carry, some of them were putting in place ridiculous transportation restrictions and requiring people to carry with them up to four pages of court orders.

This group, the NJ gentry, thinks they are going to win on appeal and in the long run. They’re fighting like the third monkey on the ramp to Noah’s ark when it started to rain. But they do think they’re going to win – they’re that arrogant. And truth be told, sadly, they could win. Anything goes when it comes to this kind of stuff.

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If Murphy makes New Jersey an oasis of where booze can be served in many more places, under current law, he’s expanding the number of locations where the law abiding would be prohibited from carrying a firearm. Yes, there’s a TRO in place. Yes, it’s likely there will be a preliminary injunction. Yes, the state is going to appeal. And no, we don’t know what’s going to happen after all is said and done.

Having a supermarket where beer is served in the cafe, and more and more restaurants able to sell intoxicating libations could be a nice and liberating thing. Grabbing a stiff one before or while sauntering down the produce aisle would be nice, but not at the cost of losing the Second Amendment in those areas.

Is this a foregone conclusion that this is why the Murph is seeking to change the alcohol regulations? Not at all. In fact, taking this information in might require a roll of tin foil. Regardless of the facts or motivations behind the move, if things go south for those of the Garden State with these challenges to Danilelsen’s unconstitutional law, not only do they end up with the crappy prohibitions on carry, they’ll be further expanded. And that…I can’t drink to that.

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