New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced today at the Trenton YMCA that the new administration will rescind a rule adopted by the Christie administration that attempted to weaken New Jersey’s stringent standards of what was considered a “justifiable need” to carry a handgun.
“New Jersey cannot, and must not, become part of the race to the bottom on handgun carry that we are seeing across the country,” Murphy said. “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.”
New Jersey law previously required individuals seeking to obtain a handgun-carry permit to demonstrate a “justifiable need” that they had been the recipient of specific threats or attacks. The Christie administration adopted a policy in March 2017 that reduced the threshold by allowing applicants to include “serious threats” to support the required demonstration of justifiable need. Someone who lives or works in an area where certain crimes are common could arguably apply for a handgun-carry permit by citing a concern for their safety, even if they had not been personally subjected to a threat or incident. In April 2017, the Legislature sued Governor Christie over the change, saying it ignored the legislative intent of the law. The lawsuit is still pending.
“Today my office has begun taking steps to make our state’s handgun carry rules consistent with long-settled legal precedent,” Grewal said. “Our ultimate goal is to solidify New Jersey’s handgun permitting rule language in its prior form, as advocated by the Legislature, and consistent with two prior decisions rendered by the State’s highest court. New Jersey’s law should be clear – private citizens should not be able to carry weapons based on mere generalized fear.”
Murphy also said he is committed to fighting federal concealed-carry reciprocity legislation that passed in the House of Representatives in December. If enacted, the legislation would force New Jersey and other states to honor concealed-carry permits issued outside of their borders, even if those states have lower standards or no standards for concealed-carry. New Jersey is one of ten states that currently does not honor concealed-carry permits issued out of state.
“The notion that we would have to be subjected to the lowest common denominator is reprehensible,” Murphy said. “Forcing our state to comply with the standards of other states undermines our law, makes our people less safe, and makes it more difficult for the brave women and men in New Jersey law enforcement to do their jobs safely and effectively. Attorney General Grewal and I remain committed to fighting any federal regulations that could exacerbate the gun epidemic.”
The new rules will be instituted through the state’s Administrative Procedures Act and will take between three and six months to be implemented, officials said.
Scott Bach, the executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, slammed the move and indicated his group may take legal action to fight the change.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that police owe 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. Governor Murphy will have the blood of more innocents like Carol Bowne on his hands,” he said. “New Jersey is going to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into legal recognition of the fundamental right to defend yourself outside the home. My group is more than happy to oblige and will be at the forefront of the movement to restore this constitutional right.”