TRENTON, N.J. – Asked if he would define ‘incidental entry’ during an Assembly debate last month on his concealed carry restriction bill, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen abruptly said, “No,” causing several lawmakers to break out in laughter.
“I think you should consult an attorney or the dictionary if you are confused,” Danielsen told Assemblyman Brian Bergen, who had asked him the question.
So Bergen did!
Verifying that the phrase wasn’t in the dictionary was easy, but as it turns out, even lawyers working for the state Legislature are stumped.
In a letter to Bergen this week, Thomas Kelly, a principal counsel for The Office of Legislative Services wrote, “the phrase does not appear in New Jersey statutory law or the administrative code.” Nor was it found in state case law.
“Therefore, it would be left to a court to interpret the meaning of the phrase,” Kelly concluded.
That is a big problem according to Bergen.
“The careless nature in which this bill was written is a disgrace,” said Bergen. “People will go to jail, be deprived of their rights, and suffer immensely because the sponsor couldn’t be bothered to use real language in the bill that clearly defines what you can or can’t do. This is legislative malpractice.”
Danielsen added the term “incidental entry” in response to Bergen’s criticism that the bill’s language was so ambiguous that the mere act of stepping foot on someone’s property with a concealed firearm could land them in jail.
“The majority party rushes through legislation that is fundamentally flawed all the time,” concluded Bergen. “This time they have gone too far.”