TRENTON, N.J. – Republican lawmakers in the Assembly Judiciary Committee Monday pushed back against the Democrat’s latest round of legislation targeting legal gun ownership that might set the stage for major court battles in the coming months and years.
The bill would require people wanting to carry guns to purchase pricey liability insurance and complete safety training. Handguns would also be barred from 25 broad categories of public spaces. Violations would be a third-degree crime, punishable by 3-5 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
Its sponsors said they looked to a recent New York carry law passed in July, which has already been struck down by a federal judge who said it would be unconstitutional. Another judge subsequently ruled it can remain in effect while the case is appealed.
Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn raised concerns about whether the bill would stand up to constitutional scrutiny.
“Anyone with a law degree would look at this and say, this does not conform with the Second Amendment,” said Flynn (R-Monmouth). “It’s going to be challenged, and we’re going to spend a lot of dollars defending it.”
She recommended the committee focus its attention on the uptick in car thefts and criminal activity rather than infringing upon the conduct of law abiding citizens.
Flynn took issue with raising the application fee from $2 to $200 and requiring the purchase of liability insurance, which would disadvantage low-income residents.
“What about the lower income residents of the state who wish to exercise their right,” continued Flynn. “How are they going to afford that? Because they might not have access to the $200, they might not have access to the insurance necessary for this.”
She said provisions prohibit carrying a firearm on private property without the expressed permission of the owner was not narrowly tailored to meet constitutional muster.
“Every single one of those sections are going to have to be tested against the highest constitutional scrutiny,” said Flynn.
Flynn also took issue with the bills list of places banned, which “taken as a whole” she asked “where can you carry [a handgun]?” to which the bill sponsor, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen could not provide an example.
Assemblyman Robert Auth wanted to clarify that the proposed law targets law-abiding residents rather than going after criminals with illegal guns.
“Law-abiding gun owners, who follow the rules and do what they are asked to do to be a legal-gun owner, don’t engage in this type of activity,” said Auth (R-Bergen).
Prior to voting, Auth read sections of a news story published in The Record last week about a 43-year old woman working as a DoorDash driver who was murdered by a gunman in October 2019 while making her last delivery of the night. The shooter remains unidentified and at-large.
“I am voting no because no one is looking out for this woman,” said Auth. “This woman could have used a gun to maybe protect herself and you’re telling her ‘no.’ And I’m telling you, ‘no.’”
The fast-tracked bill was introduced Thursday and is expected to get a vote in the Assembly on Oct. 27.