New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who ordered gun sales halted in the state due to COVID, last week unveiled a plan to hit gun owners with millions in new taxes to fund the state.
Murphy's budget proposal for 2021 includes borrowing $4 billion without the approval of voters while new levies on gun owners is expected to wring another $6.3 million over an eight-month period through increases on mandatory firearms taxes and licensing fees. This comes as Murphy told lawmakers he remains, "as committed to seeing through our vision of creating a stronger and fairer New Jersey as I have ever been."
As detailed in an analysis by the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, under Murphy's new tax scheme, the cost of a pistol purchase permit would increase from $2 to $48-- a 2,300 percent increase-- and Firearms Identification cards would jump from $5 to $98, a spike of over 1,800 percent. All for a permitting scheme that few states outside of New Jersey require.
"This amounts to a poll tax on gun ownership and a fundamental constitutional right," said the ANJRPC in a statement. "The Governor, a Wall Street multi-millionaire who enjoys around-the-clock protection and a taxpayer-paid security detail, has clearly made his position known: elitists with money have more rights than average citizens."
The trade group for the firearms industry slammed the move by Murphy, noting the new fee schedule also included 9,900 percent increases in the fee for a gun retail dealer license-- from $50 to $500-- and the fee for a firearm manufacturer 900 percent from $150 to $1,500. By comparison, federal fees charged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for gun dealer and pawnbroker licenses is $200 while manufacturer licenses are $150.
"Murphy’s budget proposal attempts to close a $5.6 billion – with a 'B' – hole in the Garden State by hiking taxes and fees on firearm services and businesses that might generate $6 million," said Larry Keane, SVP for government & public affairs for theNational Shooting Sports Foundation. "That amounts to one tenth of one percent. It’s antigun window dressing and the governor knows it."
Since taking office in 2018 following a campaign supported by national gun control groups, Murphy has rolled back a number of pro-gun reforms backed by the outgoing administration of Republican Gov. Chris Christie, repeatedly slammed the gun lobby for the state’s instances of violent crime, shut out Second Amendment groups from gun policy discussions, and appointed a former lawyer for Giffords to a newly-created “gun czar” position. Murphy’s attorney general last week warned a number of gun parts makers they could face civil action for selling unfinished lowers and frames in the state and has been ordered by Murphy to publish a running “shame” list of firearm trace data.
This year, Murphy ordered the state-controlled firearm background check system taken offline as part of his emergency actions on COVID relief, and closed shooting ranges. Those anti-gun actions were only rescinded after numerous lawsuits were filed by pro-Second Amendment groups.