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BREAKING: Range Bills PULLED From Monday Agenda!
December 2, 2016:
After several days of gun owner outcry and subsequent dialogue with the bill sponsor, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D28) has graciously agreed to hold A4179/A4180 to allow for continued discussion to address gun owner concerns.
We also appreciate the assistance of Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee Chairman Daniel Benson (D14) in fostering an environment that will allow meaningful consideration of gun owner concerns.
And thank YOU for speaking out and making gun owner voices heard.
Please spread the word and make sure our fellow defenders of the Second Amendment know there will be no hearing on these bills on Monday, Dec 5.
Further updates will follow as the situation develops.
URGENT! Sweeping Attack on Ranges, Gun Clubs, & Everyone Who Uses Them – Monday
Legislation Imposes Impossible Conditions on Most Ranges, Many Could Be Forced to Close
Shooting Activities Shut Down On Ranges Unable to Comply
Bills Impact Training, Target Practice, Competition, Hunters, Domestic Violence Victims, Military, Law Enforcement, Every Range & Range User, and More
Please Contact Legislative Committee Members Immediately, And Attend Monday’s Hearing
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH EVERY GUN OWNER YOU KNOW!
On Monday, December 5, at 2:00 p.m., the New Jersey Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hear A4179 and A4180 – “suicide prevention” bills which have little actual impact on suicide but represent a massive attack on every shooting range in the state and every person who uses them. Please attend this critical hearing at the New Jersey State House Annex, 125 West State Street, Trenton NJ 08608 (room to be announced).
There isn’t a single gun owner, shooting range, gun club, instructor, hunter education student, or person trying the shooting sports for the first time who would not be impacted by these bills as presently written. The legislation as written also impacts rangework by active and retired law enforcement, military members, and various agency professionals.
The bills as presently written would require the owner or operator of every range and gun club to verify that every range user has an FID card, NJ carry permit, or pistol purchase permit, along with government-issued photo ID, every time that person uses the range. That is an impossible burden for most ranges to meet - most ranges are unstaffed or staffed sporadically by volunteers. Few ranges have staff during all operating hours. NO SHOOTING ACTIVITY COULD OCCUR ON ANY RANGE THAT IS NOT STAFFED TO VERIFY CREDENTIALS.
The bills as presently written would also prevent you from using your own firearms on a range unless the range first verifies your credentials, every time you use the range, and bans all temporary transfer on a range unless the range verifies the credentials of both the transferor and transferee. THIS IMPACTS A HUGE SWATH OF SECOND AMENDMENT ACTIVITY, INCLUDING TRAINING, COMPETITION, TARGET PRACTICE, OPEN HOUSES, RANGE GUESTS, HUNTER EDUCATION, WOMEN’S EVENTS, ETC. (see below for detailed examples).
The bills, sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D28), are extremely overbroad and wide-ranging in their effect. Instead of narrowly addressing a specific limited problem, the bills cast an enormous net over every range in the state and every person that uses them, and would dramatically disrupt traditional Second Amendment activity that has occurred for decades without incident. Many ranges would be forced to close, and those able to stay open would be severely burdened and disrupted.
We have communicated our concerns to Assemblyman Caputo and have been told that bill amendments are forthcoming, but our request to postpone the December 5 hearing has not been accepted. As a result, based on past experience, there will likely be confusion at the hearing Monday, as it is declared that last-minute amendments (that have not been fully analyzed) address our concerns, when in fact they do not. We have seen this scenario many times in the past on firearms legislation and we have not seen one instance where last-minute amendments have adequately addressed gun owner concerns.
Please immediately contact all members of the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee and Assemblyman Caputo and tell them to OPPOSE A4179 and A4180 or postpone the December 5 hearing. No one will be made safer by this legislation, and they should focus on targeted solutions directed at the specific issue they are trying to address, rather than a broad-brush approach that harms every NJ range and every person who uses them.
Click here for Legislator contact information.
Ultimately, A4179 and A4180 are based on a deeply flawed premise. Possession of a firearms ID card, pistol purchase permit, or carry permit is not an assurance that someone is not depressed or will not become depressed in the future. Nor would the legislation prevent those intent on committing suicide from doing so.
Possession of a firearms credential is merely an indication of prior history, not present mental state. Mental health professionals opine that the most effective way to reduce suicide risk is to recognize warning signs based on present mental state, yet the legislation does not in any way address present mental state, nor does it pose solutions targeted to the specific problem it seeks to address. As written, all the legislation does is harm ranges and gun clubs, and interfere with the exercise of Second Amendment rights in New Jersey.
Here are just a few examples of how this legislation, as currently written, would harm the entire Second Amendment community in New Jersey:
· “No papers, no target practice.” Every gun owner would be required to present NJ firearms credentials to the owner or operator range of a range before being allowed to use their own firearms on that range, every time they use the range. What if you’re from out of state? Sorry. What if the club doesn’t have staff to check credentials? Too bad.
· No shooting activities on unstaffed ranges (most gun clubs and ranges are not staffed). Shooting activity could only occur where staff exists to check credentials. Unstaffed ranges would lose members (because members wouldn’t be allowed to shoot there), many clubs would be forced to close.
· Staffed ranges forced to become the “FID police.” Of the few ranges with staff, most are non-profit clubs with occasional volunteer staff who cannot be conscripted into becoming full-time agents of the state to verify credentials. The few ranges that do have paid staff would be burdened into hiring additional personnel to meet the state’s demands. Ranges that cannot afford to check credentials during all hours of operation would lose members and some would be forced to close.
· No more temporary transfer at ranges unless both parties have NJ credentials and display those credentials to the range owner / operator (regardless of whether the range is staffed or unstaffed – same concerns as above). New Jersey’s longstanding law regarding temporary transfer of firearms on ranges has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to try many different shooting sports, without incident, before deciding whether to become a firearms owner. The legislation would shut down all of these lawful activities, including the ones discussed below.
· “You have to become a gun owner before you decide whether you want to become a gun owner.” FIREARMS TRAINING, OPEN HOUSES, RANGE GUESTS, WOMENS’ EVENTS, SPECIAL PROGRAMS, etc. would be shut down and unavailable to anyone without a firearms credential. Most people considering firearms ownership try it first, before obtaining credentials to purchase firearms. All of this activity would be stopped, and would negatively impact many ranges and clubs in the legislation as currently written. “Sorry, you can’t even try target practice until the state has investigated you.”
· Domestic Violence victims would be prevented from training with firearms while awaiting issuance of their firearm credentials, so they are proficient enough to protect themselves when their credentials are finally issued (in some jurisdictions, applicants wait over a year, in violation of state law). A domestic violence victim who does not yet have their firearms credentials should not be prevented from becoming trained and proficient in the meanwhile.
· Hunter education impeded. NJ hunter education firearms safety classes require live fire range exercises, and the State makes firearms available to participants who don’t have their own firearms. The legislation would prevent this activity unless the student and teacher already have credentials, which is not always the case. Ironically, this legislation interferes with hunter safety training, and the revenue it generates for the state.
· Unsafe: Hunters prevented from sighting in or test-firing their firearms. Many out-of-state hunters sight-in their firearms or do test-firing at unstaffed wildlife management area ranges maintained by New Jersey. Those without NJ firearms credentials would be forbidden from doing so. But even hunters with NJ credentials (resident or not) would also be forbidden, since their credentials could not be displayed to the range owner / operator of an unstaffed wildlife management area range.
· Competitions impacted. Shooting is an Olympic sport, and NJ competitors have produced Olympic medals. Competitors coming into NJ would be forbidden from using their own firearms, or from using fellow competitors’ firearms, unless they have NJ credentials (most do not). Competitions would be severely impacted.
· Prevents non-residents from participating in popular, lawful NJ shooting sports and activities unless they have NJ credentials (most do not). Cuts off significant revenue and commerce coming into NJ, from which the state benefits. Dramatically harms ranges throughout the state.
· Military, Police & Agency range activities. As presently written, the legislation prevents anyone without an FID card, pistol purchase permit, or handgun carry permit from using their own firearms, or temporary transfer of others’ firearms, on ranges. Active law enforcement in New Jersey rarely have these credentials, and many retired members of law enforcement do not obtain these credentials. Additionally, a whole host of military, agency, and other personnel are specifically exempted under NJ law from needing firearms credentials in the first place, and those personnel would also be impacted.
· Overwhelms an already overburdened and dysfunctional permitting system. The legislation could result in a deluge of applications for FID cards or other credentials. ANJRPC’s Permitting StrikeForce has already painstakingly documented permitting abuses rampant throughout New Jersey’s 565 municipalities. Many applicants have waited more than a year to receive permits that are required by law to be granted or denied within 30 days. The legislation could stimulate tens thousands of new applications, which would overwhelm the existing dysfunctional system and slow it even further, significantly burdening Second Amendment rights.
· Toy guns included. Believe it or not, the use of BB guns and airguns would also be prohibited at shooting ranges in the absence of firearms credentials. That’s because New Jersey law treats them as “firearms” even though they are considered toys everywhere else, and the legislation fails to exempt them from its overreach. Absurd!
· Youth exempted, but not adults??? Bizarrely, A4179 preserves specific exemptions for target practice, instruction and training by minors who don’t have credentials, yet provides no similar exemptions for adults. Do legislators actually believe that adults pose a suicide risk, yet minors do not?
Please immediately contact all members of the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee and Assemblyman Caputo and tell them to OPPOSE A4179 and A4180. No one will be made safer by this legislation, and they should focus on targeted solutions directed at the specific issue they are trying to address, rather than a broad-brush approach that harms every NJ range and every person who uses them.
Click here for Legislator contact information.
Vetoes Propose Deleting “Justifiable Need” As a Carry Permit Requirement, and Clean Repeal of the Smart Gun Law Mandate with No Strings Attached!
“Conditional Veto” Format Would Allow the Legislature
To Accept Governor Christie’s Conditions and
Immediately Implement Them
Please Tell Legislators to Accept
Governor Christie’s Conditions!
Wednesday August 24, 2016:
In a blockbuster announcement today, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed two pieces of anti-gun legislation (A3689 and S816), imposing dramatic conditions that would change them into pro-gun measures establishing shall-issue right-to-carry and repealing New Jersey’s 2002 “smart gun” law mandate with no strings attached.
Copies of the vetoes are available here and here.
The “conditional veto” procedure allows the governor to reject legislation that reaches his desk and propose a re-written version to the legislature. If the legislature concurs in the conditions imposed by the governor, then the measure as re-written becomes law immediately. Otherwise, the legislation dies.
“Governor Christie has made a bold and defiant statement to the legislature in support of the Second Amendment,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “Not only has he rejected their medieval schemes to block self-defense, but he has fired back in a way that forces them to choose squarely between citizen empowerment or victimization in the post-Orlando era of terror attacks on U.S. soil.”
“One inescapable truth is that government cannot protect you when evil strikes,” continued Bach. “The only solution is citizen empowerment, and it is the legal, moral and Constitutional imperative of government to facilitate and not block self-defense.”
PLEASE IMMEDIATELY CONTACT EVERY MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATURE AND TELL THEM TO VOTE TO ACCEPT THE CONDITIONS IMPOSED BY GOVERNOR CHRISTIE’S CONDITIONAL VETOES OF A3689 AND S816, TO MAKE NEW JERSEY A SHALL-ISSUE CARRY STATE AND TO CLEANLY REPEAL THE 2002 SMART GUN LAW MANDATE.
A3689 DETAILED ANALYSIS (RIGHT TO CARRY)
This spring, the State Police promulgated new regulations on right to carry that were recommended by Governor Christie. The regulations would have allowed those facing “serious threats” to satisfy the near-impossible “justifiable need” standard to qualify for a carry permit – an incremental improvement in right to carry.
Outraged by the new regulations, and distraught that more “commoners” might be able to protect themselves, anti-gun legislators (who themselves enjoy the armed protection of State House security) fast-tracked resolutions this spring to kill the new regulations before they were even formally adopted.
They invoked an obscure procedural trick in the state constitution allowing the legislature to invalidate regulations that conflict with legislative intent. But the legislature never expressed any intent as to what constitutes “justifiable need” – it is undefined in the statute, and the current definition was first created by the courts, and then adopted imprecisely by the State Police in their administrative regulations. The new regulations now at issue seek to fix the original imprecision and make the regulations consistent with court opinion.
So it is highly debatable whether there is even a conflict with legislative intent that would allow the legislature to invoke the obscure constitutional procedure to invalidate the new regulations. Legislative leaders are aware of this, which is why they introduced A3689 to begin with – it’s a stunt to fabricate legislative intent where none existed previously. It seeks to take the current imprecise administrative regulation defining and severely limiting justifiable need and cement it into state statute for all time. By doing so, the bill tries to retroactively “install” legislative intent into the statute. A3689 was sponsored by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D6).
Governor Christie’s conditional veto of A3689 rejects this attempt to freeze the definition of justifiable need for all time, and instead completely eliminates justifiable need as a requirement to obtain a carry permit in the first place! It would turn New Jersey into a shall-issue state, and Governor Christie specifically calls for New Jersey to become shall-issue – making him the first governor in state history to both acknowledge and try to implement shall-issue carry!
Here is a key quote from Governor Christie’s veto message on A3689: “For decades, law-abiding residents of New Jersey have had their Second Amendment right to self-protection burdened by gun laws that are among the most unreasonable in the country. . . . Rather than doubling down on the unreasonable requirements for law-abiding residents of New Jersey to obtain a concealed carry permit, I propose having New Jersey join the 42 other states that have adopted a “shall-issue” standard for approving such applications.”
S816 DETAILED ANALYSIS (SMART GUNS)
New Jersey’s 2002 “smart gun” law, when triggered, would become a ban on sale or transfer of every conventional handgun ever made. It mandates that only “smart” handguns can be purchased or sold once the state Attorney General determines that there is a viable smart gun for sale anywhere in the U.S.
The law backfired, because it tipped the hand of the national gun ban movement, revealing that they were going to use technology an excuse to ban conventional handguns nationwide as in New Jersey. That made the smart gun idea wildly unpopular among gun owners, and the technology has not significantly developed since.
Under national pressure to do something to remove this perceived impediment to the development of smart guns, State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D37) introduced S816 to supposedly “repeal” the smart gun law. Although the bill would remove the 2002 ban on conventional handguns, it is badly tainted because it swaps in a new mandate in its place, forcing every New Jersey firearms dealer to stock and display smart guns for sale – essentially compelling market acceptance of the technology instead of letting the free market decide. The effort to coerce smart guns onto the market by bullying dealers suggests that politicians will be back with their ban on all conventional handguns soon after an artificial market for the new and unproven technology is created. The legislation would also create a new politically-controlled commission to approve smart guns for sale, eliminating the more neutral and objective state Attorney General from that decision.
For additional background, see Scott Bach’s editorial in The Record, and this detailed ANJRPC alert on the subject from late last year.
Governor Christie’s conditional veto of S816 would remove the new dealer mandate, eliminate the politically-controlled commission, and turn the legislation into what it should have been in the first place – a clean and simple repeal of the mandate / handgun ban from the 2002 smart gun law.
PLEASE IMMEDIATELY CONTACT EVERY MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATURE AND TELL THEM TO VOTE TO ACCEPT THE CONDITIONS IMPOSED BY GOVERNOR CHRISTIE’S VETOES OF A3689 AND S816, TO MAKE NEW JERSEY A SHALL-ISSUE CARRY STATE AND TO CLEANLY REPEAL THE 2002 SMART GUN LAW MANDATE.
Click here for the full list of all New Jersey legislators that can be copied and pasted into your email program.
Maneuver Intentionally Blocks Those Facing Serious Threats
Please Stand Up For Right to Carry By Contacting
Legislators and Testifying in Person!
On Monday, August 8 at 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room 1 in the State House Annex, the New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hold a procedurally required hearing on the legislature’s maneuver to kill incremental improvements in the “justifiable need” standard to qualify for a handgun carry permit that were recommended by Governor Christie and implemented by the State Police earlier this year.
There will likely be no vote taken by the committee on Monday, but the NJ Constitution (Article V, Section IV, paragraph 6) requires that a transcript of the hearing be provided to all members of the legislature before the entire legislature can take a final vote, so it is important that all members of the legislature hear from gun owners right now.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Please immediately contact all members of the legislature and tell them to:
Vote NO on all attempts to kill the new State Police regulation allowing those facing serious threats to qualify for a carry permit so they can defend themselves in an emergency; and
Replace New Jersey’s medieval and inhumane “justifiable need” carry permit standard (which turns citizens into defenseless victims) with a Constitutional standard that recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves with a firearm, especially in the post-Orlando era of terror attacks.
TAKE ACTION MONDAY! Please also attend the hearing in person and stand up for right to carry at this final hearing before the entire legislature votes on whether to unilaterally kill even this modest improvement in right to carry.
Outraged by the recent promulgation of State Police regulations recommended by Governor Christie making a minor incremental improvement in right to carry, anti-gun legislators earlier this year fast-tracked legislation through committees in both houses of the legislature to kill the new regulations before they were even formally adopted. An obscure provision of the New Jersey Constitution allows the legislature to unilaterally invalidate administrative regulations with which it does not agree. Only in the Garden State do lawmakers openly block self-defense by those facing serious threats and tout it as a good thing.
Police owe no duty to protect individual citizens – a troubling doctrine repeatedly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. That means you’re on your own in an emergency, yet those who wish to take responsibility for their own safety are effectively blocked from doing so by New Jersey’s absurdly (and unconstitutionally) restrictive carry law. In the era of increasing terror attacks, it is all the more important that citizens be empowered to defend themselves in an emergency.
The pending state police regulations recommended by Governor Christie represent a small incremental improvement, allowing those facing “serious threats” to qualify. Anti-gun legislators, who themselves enjoy the armed protection of State House security details, hypocritically are working to block everyone else’s self-defense rights.
CLICK HERE for a list of every legislators’ email addresses that can be copied and pasted into your email software.
Assembly Committee to Hear Exact Same Smart Gun Bill
That Was Pocket-Vetoed By Governor Christie in January
Resolution and New Bill on Right to Carry Intentionally Blocks
Self-Defense By Those Facing Serious Threats
Please Immediately Tell Committee Members to Vote No!
May 31, 2016:
|On Thursday, June 2 at 2:00 p.m., the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider a triple-threat of anti-gun legislation: A1426 (the exact same smart gun bill pocket-vetoed by Governor Christie in January), together with ACR175 & A3689– companion bills whose purpose is to kill State Police regulations incrementally improving right to carry that were recommended by Governor Christie late last year.
SMART GUN LEGISLATION
While A1426 would roll back the ban on conventional handguns from New Jersey’s 2002 “smart gun” law, the bill is badly tainted because it swaps in a new mandate in its place, forcing every New Jersey firearms dealer to stock and display smart guns for sale – essentially compelling market acceptance of the technology instead of letting the free market decide. The effort to coerce smart guns onto the market by bullying dealers suggests that politicians will be back with their ban on all conventional handguns soon after an artificial market for the new and unproven technology has been created.
For key background on the smart gun issue, and why this legislation is so dangerous, please see ANJRPC Executive DirectorScott Bach’s editorial inThe Recordon the subject, and see this detailedANJRPC alerton the subject from late last year.
Outraged by the recent promulgation of State Police regulations making a minor incremental improvement in right to carry recommended by Governor Christie, Senate Democrats led by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37) in early May fast-tracked SCR101, a legal trick that could kill the new regulations before they are even formally adopted. ACR175 is the Assembly version of that resolution, and it has now been paired with A3689, sponsored by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-6). A3689 is an attempt to permanently cement in place New Jersey’s current unconstitutional carry permit standard.
Only in the Garden State do lawmakers openly block self-defense by those facing serious threats and tout it as a good thing. And only in the New Jersey does the state constitution contain an obscure provision allowing the legislature to unilaterally kill regulations issued by an entirely separate branch of government in a simple “resolution” that does not require the Governor’s signature to be effective.
Police owe no duty to protect individual citizens – a troubling doctrine repeatedly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. That means you’re on your own in an emergency, yet those who wish to take responsibility for their own safety are effectively blocked from doing so by New Jersey’s absurdly (and unconstitutionally) restrictive carry law.
The pending state police regulations recommended by Governor Christie represent a small incremental improvement, allowing those facing “serious threats” to qualify. Anti-gun legislators, who themselves enjoy the armed protection of State House security details, hypocritically are working to block everyone else’s self-defense rights. ACR175 and A3689 would be more aptly named the Citizen’s Victimization Act.
Please immediately tellall members of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committeeto vote NO on A1426, ACR175, and A3689. Tell them to instead support a complete repeal of New Jersey’s 2002 “smart gun” law, and to support the right of those facing serious threats to protect themselves where government has abandoned its obligation to do so.
For additional information, see this recent alert from NRA-ILA.
New AG Directive Addresses Permitting Delays &
Illegal Conditions – Facilitates ANJRPC’s
Permitting StrikeForce to End Permitting Abuse
Second AG Directive Addresses “Reasonably Necessary Deviations” in Firearms Transportation – Acknowledges the Most Common Deviations & Provides General Guidance
AG Also Promulgates Official Regulations for Incremental Improvement in “Justifiable Need” for Right to Carry
The New Jersey Attorney General has followed through on the recommendations of Governor Chris Christie’s 2015 firearms study commission formed pursuant to Executive Order 180, taking the following actions:
1. Issued an Attorney General Directive regarding the outrageous delays and illegal conditions imposed by bureaucrats in the issuance of firearms permits, directing every permitting authority in New Jersey to follow state law mandates, and requiring them to regularly track and report their compliance to the State, and to respond to update inquiries by individual applicants. The Directive also calls for further study of how the permitting process can be streamlined in the future. The Directive will greatly facilitate the mission of ANJRPC’s Permitting StrikeForce to end permitting abuse throughout the state.
2.Issued an Attorney General Directive reducing uncertainty in the meaning of “reasonably necessary deviations” in the transportation of firearms by law-abiding citizens, providing general guidance on the subject as well as specific examples of the most common deviations deemed “reasonably necessary,” such as pickup and discharge of passengers, purchasing food, beverages, fuel, medicine, and other necessary supplies, using a restroom, and contending with an emergency situation.
3.Recently promulgated state police regulations to effect the incremental improvement in the “justifiable need” standard needed to qualify for a carry permit that was recommended by the Governor’s commission.
“We welcome these historic executive actions to make progress on basic issues that have plagued New Jersey’s one million law-abiding gun owners for decades,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “Honest citizens who choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights should not have to wait months or years for permits, and should not have to live in fear of imprisonment for stopping while travelling to the range.”
“As for New Jersey’s blatantly unconstitutional interference with self-defense through an impossible-to-satisfy carry permit standard,” Bach continued, “gun owners will eventually overturn that abomination, but in the meanwhile we welcome the modest incremental improvement represented by the new rules being promulgated.”
Based on the separation of powers doctrine, executive actions are limited by the New Jersey Constitution, and cannot change laws passed by the legislature or ruled on by the courts. But they can clarify unclear areas of the law not addressed by the courts or the legislature, and take actions limited to the executive branch of government that do not exceed constitutional authority or infringe on the other branches of government. Executive actions that exceed their authority and infringe on the other branches of government are unconstitutional and cannot survive a challenge.
Read Governor Christie’s press release about these historic executive actions here.
While a detailed review of these executive actions is currently under way, following is our preliminary analysis:
ENDING PERMITTING ABUSES
Garden State gun owners have suffered longstanding, widespread abuses in the issuance of firearms permits, including outrageous delays beyond the legally mandated 30-day deadline, and the imposition of unlawful conditions on the issuance of permits, like requiring employer consent, spousal notification, and dozens of other unauthorized requirements.
ANJRPC’s Permitting StrikeForce was formed in 2014 to systematically address these issues town-by-town among New Jersey’s 565 municipalities and police barracks that issue permits. Significant progress has been made, and we are currently engaged in discussions with approximately 200 towns, but the new Attorney General Directive on permitting will greatly facilitate the process.
The Attorney General directive requires permitting authorities to follow the mandates of state law, to regularly track and report their compliance to the State, and to respond to update inquiries by individual applicants. The Directive also calls for further study of how the permitting process can be streamlined in the future.
“We expect the new Attorney General Directive on permitting to turbocharge ANJRPC’s Permitting StrikeForce initiative,” said attorney Daniel Schmutter, Esq., leader of the project. “There is no excuse for any failure to comply with the clear requirements of state law, and the new AG Directive enables us to become much more aggressive with non-compliant towns.”
CLARIFYING “REASONABLE DEVIATIONS”
IN FIREARMS TRANSPORTATION
State statute generally requires that transportation of certain firearms be “direct” between authorized points in order for possession to be legal, except for “reasonably necessary deviations” – a term not defined by state law.
For decades, honest gun owners have faced the threat of prosecution for unlawful handgun possession (a crime carrying up to ten years in prison) if a stop between authorized points was not deemed a “reasonably necessary deviation” in transportation. Many law-abiding citizens have been turned into criminals by this absurd law, and there is a patchwork of conflicting interpretations from town to town regarding what is considered “reasonable.”
The new Attorney General directive provides statewide guidance on the issue, and identifies specific examples of the most common deviations that should be deemed “reasonably necessary,” including pickup and discharge of passengers, purchasing food, beverages, fuel, medicine, and other needed supplies, using a restroom, and contending with an emergency situation. The general guidelines specify that the more limited in duration and distance that transportation deviations are, the more likely they are to be found reasonable.
Again, the executive branch does not have the power to ignore or rewrite state law on transportation of firearms (it can only interpret existing law, in a manner consistent with statutory language and court decisions). While New Jersey still has a very long way to go in recognizing the right to transport firearms under the Second Amendment, the new directive adds more clarity and certainty to an area that has placed gun owners in legal jeopardy for decades, and represents an incremental improvement.
AN INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENT IN “JUSTIFIABLE NEED”
FOR HANDGUN CARRY PERMITS
The right to defend yourself with a firearm outside the home, otherwise known as right to carry, has long been disparaged by the Garden State, and it is nearly impossible for gun owners to qualify for a carry permit due to the state’s absurdly restrictive and impossible-to-meet “justifiable need” standard, which currently requires proof of actual threats or prior attacks, among other things. ANJRPC challenged that standard in a significant lawsuit several years ago, but unfortunately the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. With the recent passing of conservative pro-gun Justice Antonin Scalia, the outcome of other pending carry law challenges heading toward the U.S. Supreme from other states is uncertain.
As noted above, executive powers are limited by the New Jersey Constitution, and the executive branch cannot simply rewrite laws passed by the legislature or ruled on by the courts, based on the separation of powers doctrine. The executive branch is constrained by state law and court opinions interpreting justifiable need and does not have the authority to simply ignore the other branches of government and rewrite the standard, much to gun owners’ disappointment. However, incremental improvement of the standard is possible and enforceable if it does not conflict with the existing statute interpretation.
The recent State Police rules promulgation implementing the recommendation of the Governor’s commission on justifiable need is the first step in a technical, lengthy process. Following the promulgation, there is a period for public comment, an opportunity for amendment of the proposed rules, and eventual finalization of the rule.
According to gun rights guru and ANJRPC legal affairs chair Evan Nappen, Esq., "The Governor’s recommendation would incrementally improve justifiable need by allowing the demonstration of urgent necessity to be met by 'serious threats', as opposed to just 'specific threats and previous attacks.' It further adds a standard of reasonableness to the requirement that the threat cannot be avoided by means other than carrying a handgun. It opens the door to many qualified individuals getting a carry permit who otherwise would be denied." For an in-depth discussion of justifiable need and how the Governor’s recommendation would make an incremental improvement, listen to this extensive interview with ANJRPC attorney Daniel Schmutter, Esq.
ANJRPC President and national pistol champion Kathy Chatterton commented, “New Jersey’s current unacceptable ‘justifiable need’ standard has an especially harsh impact on women. Women frequently become the targets of stalkers and vengeful ex-husbands or boyfriends. New Jersey must join the 43 other states that recognize concealed carry as important to a woman’s right to protect herself when facing this kind of danger. Self-protection outside the home is everyone’s right – including women!”
While ANJRPC is committed to fully restoring the right to carry and ending the Garden State’s medieval mistreatment of gun owners, even a modest incremental improvement in a standard destined to be overturned is welcome in the meanwhile.
Thursday May 14, 2015: In a published decision affecting all New Jersey municipalities, the New Jersey Appellate Division today confirmed that New Jersey permitting authorities may NOT require completion of additional forms for firearms permit applications beyond the forms mandated by state law.
"This decision represents a major breakthrough that will facilitate the mission of ANJRPC's Permitting StrikeForce™ ," said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. "For the first time, a New Jersey Appellate Court has published a decision confirming that local permitting authorities may not impose additional forms as a condition of issuing firearms permits and licenses. The Evan F. Nappen Law Firm is to be commended on bringing this case and obtaining this extremely significant decision."
The number one complaint ANJRPC receives from law-abiding gun owners relates to local permitting forms and requirements invented by municipalities, beyond what is clearly specified under state law, often resulting in improper delays and denials. The mission of ANJRPC's Permitting StrikeForce™ is to address these problems in each and every one of New Jerseys 565 municipalities. Today's decision will make it much easier to either obtain voluntary compliance from these towns, or to employ litigation against those that refuse.
The case was brought by the law firm of Evan F. Nappen, and was briefed and argued by Louis Nappen. See the Nappen Firm's press release for additional details.
Towns That Won't See the Light
Are Going to Feel the Heat!
ANJRPC has launched Phase 2 - the Crackdown Phase - of its Permitting StrikeForce™ program, a comprehensive statewide initiative to address firearms permitting abuses throughout the Garden State. The program is aimed at ending, once and for all, the extensive delays, unauthorized conditions, and other widespread abuses plaguing the issuance of firearms ID cards and handgun purchase permits to law-abiding citizens throughout New Jersey.
In StrikeForce™ Phase 1, launched last year, we did a sweep of the entire state to create a comprehensive database chronicling and detailing the specific permitting abuses occurring throughout New Jersey's 565 municipalities and other permitting authorities. Hundreds of gun owners participated in Phase 1, providing us with evidence of their towns' abuses.
Our attorneys conducted their own independent statewide survey, and all of the data has been crunched, organized, and analyzed. For the first time in history, we now have the full picture of where and what the problems are, and it isn't pretty. From absurdly long delays, to blatantly unlawful application conditions, to outrageous privacy violations, we have identified the worst offenders.
"Phase 2 of the StrikeForce program is the start of the crackdown phase," said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. "We are serving legal notices on nearly 150 municipalities, informing them of the law, their obligations, and their specific violations in no uncertain terms. We expect that many towns will comply voluntarily once the clear and indisputable law has been explained to them, but the towns that won't see the light are going to feel the heat," said Bach.
During Phase 2, ANJRPC's counsel will be working to achieve voluntary compliance in as many towns as possible, as rapidly as possible. For those permitting authorities that simply refuse to comply, ANJRPC will embark on Phase 3 - the "hammer" phase, in which ANJRPC will deploy a number of the most powerful tools at its disposal, including litigation, to force compliance with the law.
"Permitting authorities need to understand that we have entered a new era after the groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the Heller and McDonald cases," said Bach. "It is unlawful to interfere with Second Amendment rights by abusing the permitting process, and ANJRPC will spare no effort or expense to stop further abuse."
Many towns impose outrageous, unauthorized conditions on issuance of purchase permits, such as employer notification, spousal consent, disclosure of all household member names, and passing a written exam. Many municipalities also ignore state law requiring application decisions within 30 days; some applicants wait over a year before getting a decision. Some towns also ration handgun purchase permits at the rate of one per month, under the mistaken belief that New Jersey's "one gun a month" law applies to issuance of permits themselves.
ANJRPC first began addressing permitting issues on a case-by-case basis in 2009. Recent legal developments made it viable to launch ANJRPC'S Permitting StrikeForce™ last year as the first-ever comprehensive compliance sweep over the entire state. The program is synergistic and complementary with the efforts of other organizations on permitting issues.
ANJRPC's Permitting StrikeForce™ needs YOU! Although we have now moved into Phase 2, we still need to know about permitting abuses you may be suffering, as well as improvements in the permitting process that result from StrikeForce efforts. Please tell us about unauthorized conditions, delays, permit rationing, or any other violations, or improvements, in your town. Your identity will be protected, but your input will help us get the job done! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (973) 697-9270. Please include as much detail as possible.
THE NJ ATTORNEY GENERAL
FINDS SMART GUN LAW
The New Jersey Attorney General has issued a legally-mandated report to the Governor and the Legislature finding that the Armatix iP1 handgun does not qualify as a “smart gun” under New Jersey’s 2002 smart gun law.
The report includes the following statement:
After careful consideration of the iP1's design, we have determined that it does not satisfy the statutory definition because, as a matter of design, the pistol may be fired by a person who is not an authorized or recognized user. That is, as long as the pistol is situated within 10 inches of the enabling wristwatch, it may be fired by anyone – the authorized user or any other person who is able to pull the trigger. While the system does incorporate a PIN code or a timer to disable the handgun, when the weapon is enabled, there is nothing in the technology which automatically limits its operational use so that it may only be fired by an authorized or recognized user (so long as the pistol is within a 10-inch proximity to the wristwatch component).
Situations may readily be envisioned in which an unauthorized individual gains access to the pistol in close enough proximity to the wristwatch component (by either maintaining possession of the pistol within 10 inches of the authorized user’s wrist on which he or she is wearing the watch, or by forcibly taking possession of the wristwatch), and therefore would be able to fire the weapon, despite the limiting technology. Accordingly, we are unable to conclude that the iP1 design meets all the elements of New Jersey’s statutory definition of a personalized handgun under N.J.S.2C:39-1(dd), and therefore its availability for retail sales purposes will not trigger the operation of N.J.S.2C:58-2.4 (requiring the promulgation of a list of personalized handguns) and N.J.S.2C:58-2.5 (prohibiting the sale of non-personalized handguns).
The report was likely issued in connection with pending litigation in which the Brady Center has tried to force the Attorney General to issue a report that would trigger New Jersey’s smart gun law by finding that the Armatix gun satisfied the law.
“New Jersey’s smart-gun law is a dumb as it gets,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “It forces you to use an unproven technology to defend your life, and then exempts the state from liability when the gun goes ‘click’ instead of ‘bang’. If it’s such a great idea, then law enforcement shouldn’t be exempt, and the free market should be able to determine its viability. This is a welcome finding by the Attorney General.”
Read the Attorney General’s report here.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE VETOES
GUN BAN / MAG BAN!
July 2, 2014: Governor Christie vetoed A2006 / S993, legislation that would have banned
firearms magazines larger than 10 rounds and would have banned an entire class of
popular .22 caliber semi-automatic rifles. The veto marks the end of the road for this
legislation for the 2014-2015 session.
"After months of intense battle over this misguided legislation that won't stop another
crime or prevent another tragedy, we are grateful that Governor Christie has heard the
voice of the outdoor community and ended the discussion," said ANJRPC Executive
Director Scott Bach. "The Governor clearly recognizes the difference between legislation
that punishes violent criminals vs. legislation that targets the rights of law-abiding
PLEASE THANK GOVERNOR CHRISTIE TODAY!
Please thank Governor Christie today for his veto of A2006 / S993. You can call the
Governor's office at 609-292-6000, write him at P.O. Box 001, Trenton, N.J. 08625, or
send an email using the online contact form (select "law and public safety" from the
drop down menu, then pick any sub-topic).And thank YOU for weathering this
months-long storm of attacks on gun owners along with us. It is because of YOUR actions, YOUR calls and letters, YOUR attendance at hearings, and YOUR refusal to give up no matter what the odds, that today's outcome was possible.
Although today's action marks the end of a long and very arduous battle, the fight is far
from over. Lawmakers will be back after the November elections, and will continue their
relentless attacks on legal gun ownership - and it will be up to gun owners to continue to
Please watch for future alerts and updates!
Donations can be sent to:
Scott Bach, PO Box 651, Newfoundland, NJ 07435
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