The New Jersey Assembly has voted to approve the Concealed Carry Restriction bill, just five weeks after the controversial bill was first introduced.
The bill, which was approved by a 42-29 vote and still must pass the state Senate and be signed by Governor Phil Murphy, will almost certainly be challenged in court. One member abstained.
Prior to the vote, members engaged in a heated debate over the bill for nearly two hours, with Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) repeatedly questioning the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset) over various provisions in the bill.
“How are regular citizens supposed to know what this bill means if you can not even explain it yourself,” Bergen asked at one point.
Speaking on the Assembly floor as well, Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R-Gloucester) noted that recent cases of threats against Shuls in New Jersey highlights the need for members of the Jewish community to protect themselves.
“You want to talk about public safety, you are gonna disarm an entire community as they walk to their Synagogue, to worship on Saturdays, or any event,” she said.
“There is a rise of anti-Semitic attacks across this country, let alone across this state, she added.
“I think it will be overturned,” Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Wantage) said in a speech of his own from the Assembly floor.
“This bill will do nothing but make law abiding citizens less safe while the real criminals will just be more emboldened,” Wirths added.
The Assembly was originally scheduled to vote on the bill on October 27, but was pulled at the last minute so the bill’s sponsors could clarify some language in the bill and make it more palatable for police unions to support.
An approved amendment now allows retired police officers to renew their concealed carry permits every two years, instead of every 12 months.
The four major police unions in the state have now publicly endorsed the new bill.
Asked by TLS last week whether he thought the bill would stand up in court, New Jersey Governor Murphy said he was confident the revised bill would stand up to any potential legal challenges.
“I hope so. I normally wouldn’t talk about bills that are not on our desk, but this one is important to all of us,” he said.
“We are very concerned about the Supreme Court’s steps initially, and then also in staying New York’s laws,” Murphy continued.
“G-d willing this will be crafted in a way that will stand up, because G-d knows we need it,” he added.
The bill was introduced following the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case and therefore removes from current law the justifiable need standard, which was the standard an individual is required to meet to hold a permit to carry a handgun in New Jersey.
Also included in the new bill is an increase in the amount gun holders will have to pay for their new licenses, with the amount for a concealed carry permit applications will jump from $2 to $25. The bill also increases the fee to obtain a firearm purchaser identification card (FPIC) from $5 to $50.
The bill also establishes that a person can be charged with a third degree crime for carrying any firearm, or a crime of the second degree to possess a destructive device, in dozens of locations, including any state owned property, polling booths, public gatherings, educational facilities, school buses, camps, child care centers, parks, libraries, museums, bars and restaurants, performance halls and all health care facilities.
Also included in the sensitive areas where guns will be banned is all private property, including but not limited to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional, or undeveloped property, unless the owner has provided express consent or has posted a sign indicating that it is permissible to carry on the premises a concealed handgun with a valid and lawfully issued permit to carry.
An earlier version of the bill, sought to also ban firearms in houses of worship, as reported exclusively by TLS, but was dropped from the current version of the bill.