The Garden State will become the latest jurisdiction to test the boundaries of the Supreme Court’s latest gun-carry decision.
The New Jersey state senate passed Assembly Bill 4769 by a 21-16 vote on Monday. The wide-ranging bill would create liability insurance requirements, increase carry permit fees, and impose numerous “sensitive places” restrictions where lawful carry is prohibited. It now heads to Governor Phil Murphy’s (D.) desk. He is expected to sign it into law.
“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year stripped away the right for states to regulate who is able to carry concealed weapons in public,” Senator Linda Greenstein (D.), a prime sponsor of the bill, said following the final vote. “We must do everything we can to make sure New Jersey families remain safe and protected while enjoying all New Jersey has to offer. I believe this bill is a promising step in the right direction.”
The bill’s passage marks the second time a state affected by the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen has retaliated with a restrictive new gun-carry law. New York was the first back in July. The bill deals a significant setback to gun-rights supporters in the state.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen, New Jersey was forced to stop enforcing the subjective “justifiable need” clause in its previous carry law. That gave average residents a viable path to obtain a carry license for the first time. Now, those looking to exercise their right to carry will have to jump through numerous new hoops to obtain a permit and won’t be able to carry in many public places.
Gun-control advocates celebrated the bill’s passage after Monday’s final vote.
“It is no secret why New Jersey has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country: strong gun laws,” Kris Brown, President of Brady, said. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s reckless and dangerous Bruen decision has threatened to derail this progress and put countless communities at risk. With today’s passage of [A.4769], New Jersey chose to prioritize the safety and well-being of its citizens. This bill will prevent future violence and will save lives.”
Gun-rights advocates called the bill “a big middle finger to the U.S. Supreme Court on the right to carry.”
“Since New Jersey can no longer block the issuance of carry permits to honest citizens, the state has instead turned to blocking carry itself in most common public places, which blatantly violates the Second Amendment,” Scott Bach, Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), told The Reload. “This legislation will go down in flames in court if it becomes law.”
Once signed into law, the bill will set a $200 fee to apply for a concealed carry permit while also increasing the fees to receive both a carry permit and a handgun purchase permit. It will also require gun carriers to obtain liability insurance covering a minimum of $300,000 for injury and death, even though such a policy does not yet exist and may be illegal.
The bill also mimics many controversial provisions in New York’s retaliatory new gun carry law. It includes a requirement that private property owners affirmatively allow gun owners on their property, reversing the standard practice of requiring property owners to opt out of allowing guns. It also contains a list of more than 20 “sensitive places” where licensed carry is forbidden, including schools, government buildings, polling places, bars and restaurants, theaters, sporting arenas, parks, airports, casinos, and childcare facilities.
Multiple federal courts have ruled that New York’s private property gun restriction and many of its sensitive places restrictions are unconstitutional. However, they remain in effect as the Second Circuit considers multiple appeals from New York.