Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has taken a firm stand for gun rights in New Jersey. Christie vetoed two gun control bills that would create a “smart gun” mandate and further restrict concealed-carry. He then went on to state that he wants to see shall-issue in the Garden state.
“The right to own a gun is a fundamental one enumerated in the Constitution,” said Governor Christie in an official statement. “I continue to oppose the relentless campaign by the Democratic legislature to make New Jersey as inhospitable as possible to lawful gun ownership and sales.”
“Instead of remaining an outlier with overly burdensome restrictions of questionable constitutionality, New Jersey should follow the lead of the vast majority of states across the country and simplify, not complicate, the ability of responsible citizens, dealers and retailers, to buy, sell and possess firearms as protected by the Second Amendment.”
New Jersey has a ticking smart gun mandate in place set to go off once the technology becomes mainstream. With the invention of the Armatix personalized rimfire pistol gun control advocates argued that it’s time to put the mandate in place. The state’s attorney general later determined that the Armatix did not meet the legal criteria to trigger the mandate. The bill would have circumvented the attorney general’s determination.
Smart gun systems are controversial as they can compromise a gun’s reliability. They also increase the cost of firearms. New Jersey lawmakers, seeing these potential pitfalls to the technology, exempted law enforcement from the mandate.
The other bill sought to strengthen the language surrounding the may-issue language of New Jersey’s concealed-carry laws.
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May-issue states require that individuals seeking carry permits show “justifiable need” to carry a firearm outside the home. “Justifiable need” often means that the person is an active target of crime or has a special status as a public figure. Shall-issue states must instead prove that a person is unfit to carry in public, if not, they must issue a permit.
Christie conditionally vetoed the carry bill, striking out all of the justifiable need language. He said he would sign the bill if it replaced it entirely with shall-issue language.
In the past, Christie has taken a neutral or even pro-gun control stance but in recent years he’s transformed into a proper gun-rights proponent. These actions show he’s willing to restore gun rights to the citizens of New Jersey and bring the state more in line with the rest of the country on guns. New Jersey’s gun laws are fairly restrictive compared to most of the nation.
As noted, Christie called the bills part of a “relentless campaign by the Democratic legislature to make New Jersey as inhospitable as possible to lawful gun ownership and sales” and that he would not let it go on.
“When the legislature tried to broadly expand the assault weapons ban, I vetoed it,” Christie continued. “When the legislature tried to lower the magazine capacity from a maximum of 15 rounds to 10, I vetoed that bill also. Most notably, I have not hesitated to use my authority as governor to pardon deserving individuals whom I believe have been unjustly charged or convicted under our State’s overly-restrictive gun laws.”
Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) spoke out against the vetoes in a statement. “The Governor’s conditional veto is proof that he is out of touch with the overriding sentiments of New Jersey residents, the majority of whom support gun safety.”
“This makes the Governor’s recommendations all the more dismaying,” continued Greenwald. “Issuing concealed carry permits to every pizza delivery boy in the state won’t make us any safer as a community. I am extremely disappointed in this short-sighted action taken by Governor Christie.”