Newly-installed Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans last week to reverse a policy of outgoing Gov. Chris Christie that allowed more people to carry guns legally in New Jersey.
Murphy, flanked by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and addressing a crowd of gun control advocates last Friday, said that Christie’s previous guidance was wrong for the state, which has some of the toughest restrictions on legal firearms in the country.
“New Jersey cannot, and must not, become part of the race to the bottom on handgun carry that we are seeing across the country,” said Murphy. “My position on handgun carry has been clear and unambiguous. There already are too many guns on our streets, and adding more into the equation will not make New Jersey communities any safer.”
Murphy’s move would short-circuit a regulation from the Christie-era that allows a local police chief reviewing handgun carry permit applications to consider evidence of nonspecific “serious threats” as part of the strict “may-issue” process for granting a permit. The Republican had established the guideline last March, sparking a row with state Democrats over the slight relaxation on how the Garden State issues permits.
Grewal said his office would move to tighten the rules as soon as possible, contending, “private citizens should not be able to carry weapons based on mere generalized fear.”
The step by Murphy, who was backed in his election bid last year by gun control advocates from across the spectrum, was acclaimed by Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, among others.
Second Amendment groups in the state slammed the move, which they herald as the opening broadside by a Governor who vowed on the campaign trail to get “tough” on guns.”
“The Right to Bear Arms necessarily includes the right to self-defense with a firearm outside the home,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. “The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that police have no duty to protect individual citizens, which means you’re on your own in an emergency. It is an outrage that the same government that abandons its duty to keep us safe is also working to prevent us from protecting ourselves.”
When I took office, I pledged an oath to make New Jersey safer. Today we are announcing our intention to further restrict handgun-carry permits. Together, we will combat gun violence and build a stronger New Jersey. pic.twitter.com/i9TVHHfaN3
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) January 26, 2018