⚫ New Jersey is passing new gun laws after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that many limits on the right to carry are unconstitutional

⚫ A proposal working through the Legislature spells out a long list of places where gun owners would not be allowed to carry

⚫ Republicans and gun advocates say this proposal violates the Second Amendment

The New Jersey State Senate approved legislation, S3214, on Monday that supporters say will create the toughest concealed-carry gun law in the nation.

The measure, approved by a vote of 21-16, is expected to be signed into law quickly by Gov. Phil Murphy.

It would expand the vetting for handgun permit applicants and prohibit individuals from carrying handguns around schools, childcare facilities, government buildings, restaurants and 20 other types of locations.

Republican senators all voted no.

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Is it unconstitutional?

State Sen. Jon Bramnick, R-Union, pointed out a federal judge in New York has already ruled a similar measure in the Empire State is unconstitutional and the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services has concluded the legislation may actually be unconstitutional.

State Sen. Tony Bucco, R-Morris, said the legislation lacks common sense because it requires right-to-carry permit holders to get a special type of insurance that is not offered yet by any insurance company.

State Senator Ed Durr, R-Gloucester, said the bill denies domestic violence victims the right to defend themselves, and he believes voting in favor of it is a violation of the oath taken by state senators in New Jersey.

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cape May, said we have more important things to do in New Jersey than trample the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Young woman practice gun shoot on target
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Gun advocates vow challenge

According to Scott Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs the legislation is “a big middle finger to the U.S. Supreme Court on right-to-carry.”

“Right-to-carry is a citizen’s right to protect their life outside of the home with a firearm, that’s all it is, it’s in the Constitution, it’s been around for a long time.”

He said after the Supreme Court ruled citizens have a right to carry concealed handguns, the Garden State can no longer block the issuance of carry permits to law abiding citizens, so lawmakers have come up with a laundry list of places where handguns would no longer be allowed.

“It’s an attempt to do an end-run around the Supreme Court decision from June that opened up the right to carry to the entire country," he said. Tthe legislation will be challenged in court the moment the governor signs it, and it’s going to go down in a heaping, flaming ash-pile, this is not a close call.”

Support for gun law

Jenifer Berrier Gonzalez, a volunteer with the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action said “the New Jersey Senate was not swayed by the guns-everywhere agenda and stood up for public safety —- they voted to prioritize the safety of our communities by keeping guns out of daycare centers, train stations, playgrounds, and bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.”

handgun in tux pocket
vectorarts GettyImages

“We are grateful for the New Jersey Legislature’s leadership on gun safety and partnership throughout this process. We look forward to Gov. Phil Murphy signing this bill into law so that families across the state are safer from gun violence.”

Lauren Knighton, another volunteer for Moms Demand Action, has strongly supported the legislation. She said the time for "thoughts and prayers" has passed and “we need tangible solutions and meaningful action on gun safety.”

Gun vetting already thorough

Bach said when bad guys launch an attack with a gun the results are fast and tragic, but the right to carry gives law-abiding citizens the opportunity to protect their own lives and the lives of others.

He said the screening process to carry a handgun is very thorough.

“People are vetted extensively, you have to prove proficiency with a firearm, you have to pass multiple background checks, good guys with a gun are part of the solution.”

He said that the idea behind right-to-carry is that “criminals go somewhere else when they know they might be facing an armed response to their violent attack.”

More about the proposed gun-carry law

The legislation would require property owners to opt in to allow people to carry guns on their premises, rather than opt out.

It would also require gun safety training for permit holders and establish new insurance requirements for handgun owners: $100,000 of coverage for the injury or death of one person, $300,000 for the injury or death of multiple people in any one incident and $25,000 for property damage.

Permitting fees would be increased to $25 (from $2) for a firearm purchaser identification card and to $50 from $5 for a permit to purchase a handgun. The application fee for a permit to carry a handgun would be $200.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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