New Jersey governor signs wide-ranging restrictions on carrying guns in face of certain legal challenge

New Jersey governor signs wide-ranging restrictions on carrying guns in face of certain legal challenge

The new law will face an imminent federal court challenge from gun rights groups seeking to overturn it.

“Not only will this legislation go down in flames in our lawsuit, but the Murphy administration will end up paying the very substantial legal costs of gun owners to bring it down,” Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, said in a statement.

New Jersey has earned a reputation for having among the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, residents of the state hoping to carry a gun outside their home had to demonstrate “justifiable need” — a standard that essentially disqualified most applicants.

The Supreme Court’s summer ruling voided that standard, turning gun carry laws in New Jersey and other blue states upside down. New York, which saw its similar restrictive gun carry rules overturned by the ruling, passed a stringent gun carry law over the summer that restricted where guns can be carried. The measure is also facing a legal challenge.

Murphy acknowledged the possibility of a legal challenge, but said the state was ready to defend the law.

“We know the gun lobby and its acolytes are already preparing to take us to court to block these common sense measures,” the governor said. “The Attorney General and his team are fully prepared to forcefully defend the constitutionality of this bill. … Even if any part of the law is successfully challenged, the rest of it would remain intact and enforceable.”

Attorney General Matt Platkin called it an “entirely constitutional bill” during the bill signing.

The new law has 25 broad “sensitive places” where carrying guns would be illegal, like government buildings, public transportation and day care centers. It extends to any private property where the owner does not give permission to carry guns. Violations would be a third degree crime.

The bill signing was held at a library, one of the places where guns are prohibited under the new law.

The law also tightens the requirements to obtain a carry permit. It requires rigorous training requirements for concealed carry applicants with target training as well as online and in-person classroom instruction. A handgun permit application will jump from $2 to $25.

People who want to carry guns are also required to purchase liability insurance. San Jose, Ca., has a similar mandate scheduled to go into effect in January, although there is no similar statewide mandate in the country.

The legislation was put on the fast-track in October and was announced with the support of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Nick Scutari. Murphy, a progressive Democrat, has long favored tightening the state’s strict gun laws. New Jersey has the third lowest rate of gun deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Republicans and gun rights groups have uniformly opposed the measure, saying it oversteps the constitutional bounds of what the U.S. Supreme Court allows. Not a single Republican voted to support the bill in the state legislature.

“It’s a shame the Democratic Majority would not work with Republicans to ensure that the concealed carry of firearms can be managed in a safe, reasonable, and constitutional way,” state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) said in a statement. “… It’s an overreaching attempt by Democrats to see how far they can go in rolling back the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision while imposing even greater restrictions on law-abiding firearm owners than ever before.”

The bill passed the Assembly 43-29-1 and the Senate 21-16 after contentious debate.

Only one Democrat, outgoing state Sen. Nick Sacco (D-Hudson), voted against the measure, saying he felt it was unconstitutional.

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