Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid out his comprehensive plan to reduce gun-related violence and prevent future mass shootings.
Christie’s ‘Keeping New Jersey SAFE’ proposal (similarly titled to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act) aims to do many things, among them: ban the sale of .50-caliber semiautomatic rifles, make mental health treatment mandatory for “those who need it,” require parents to consent to a child’s purchase of a violent video game, strengthen penalties for those who commit gun-related crimes.
Notably omitted from the plan were actions to improve school security by hiring armed security guards or student resource officers, something the National Rifle Association has pushed for in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook. Though, there was a call for the NJ State Police to conduct “occasional unannounced visits” to schools located in rural areas.
“Assuring that there are common-sense safety measures when it comes to purchasing guns, and enforcing appropriate and aggressive criminal penalties for those who violate gun laws is not enough,” the Republican Governor said at a press conference.
“This is about violence control,” he added. “In order to deal with the kind of violence we’re seeing, we must address the many contributing factors to that violence.”
In 2011, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ranked the Garden State number two as far as restrictions on gun ownership are concerned, claiming it had the second toughest gun laws in the nation, right behind California. Arguably, Christie’s package finds support in the Democratically-controlled legislature, New Jersey could find itself getting top honors in 2013.
Here’s a list of the specific gun control measures:
Banning future purchases of the Barrett .50 Caliber (New Jersey law would ban any weapon that is substantially identical to the Barrett .50 Caliber);
Strengthening the State’s existing background check requirement by mandating that adjudicated mental health records are included in the instant background check process at the time of a firearm purchase as part of the National Instant Background Check system;
Requiring firearms purchasers to present a valid government photo ID, along with the already mandatory Firearms Purchaser Identification Card.
“As we see unfortunately almost every day on the news, violence is all around us,” Christie said. “We have a responsibility to be the adults in the room on this conversation. Not just to pander to one side of this argument or the other. But we need to be thoughtful and we need to be informed and we need to focus on what steps will actually work, that aren’t just emotional responses that will make us feel good for the moment but that will do nothing to actually keep our state safe.”
Thus far, state lawmakers have voiced tepid support for Christie’s proposal. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) told the Associated Press that she supports it in theory but doesn’t know if it goes far enough to curb violence.
“One area that particularly concerns me is the Governor’s notion that most of the debate surrounding this issue should be about how we deal with criminals,” Oliver said.
“While I don’t disagree that we need to have the strictest penalties in place for those who commit gun crimes, the fact of the matter is that dealing with these criminals is what happens after 20 school children are killed or after a movie theater is shot up. We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent getting to that point, period,” she concluded.
New Jersey’s current laws:
One of only seven states with a ban on Assault Weapons (43 states do not have a ban).
The third strictest magazine capacity laws in the country, 15 round limits (43 states do not have any capacity laws at all).
One of only three states that restrict gun purchases to one per 30-day period.
One of seven states to require firearm owners to report the loss or theft of their guns to law enforcement.
Any individual purchasing a firearm undergoes a background check. When a person applies for a firearms purchaser ID card, which is mandated for any long gun or a handgun purchase permit, an extensive and thorough background investigation is required. At the time of the firearm purchase, an instant background check is also performed.
The state imposes a 7-day waiting period prior to the purchase of any firearm (39 states do not have a waiting period).
Individuals convicted of certain disorderly persons offenses, such as disorderly persons domestic violence offenses, are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
New Jersey requires the licensing of all firearms dealers and their employees and requires them to maintain records of all sales of firearms and ammunition.
Thoughts and analysis
Last week, gun owners managed to score a victory at the federal level by defeating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s gun bill. It was big win, but it’s short lived because at the state level it’s a race to the bottom.
New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, California and New Jersey are all competing against one another to see which state can take the biggest bite out of the Second Amendment.
This obviously raises a troubling question, what does it say about the future of the gun community when some of the most populous states in the nation are actively subverting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens?
Make no mistake about it, pro-gun control lawmakers want, now more than anytime in recent memory, to make owning a firearm a hassle, via taxation, via registration, via ID cards, via burdensome gun laws. Unfortunately, they’re finding success in some key places.