By: Peter Suciu
Despite having some of the strictest gun control measures in the nation, last week, New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy called on state lawmakers to take it even further. Murphy has pushed his anti-Second Amendment agenda as a response to rising gun violence in cities including Trenton and Paterson.
Among his proposals is a ban on all .50 caliber firearms – the largest civilian platform that can be owned without the would-be buyer going through a special ATF National Firearms Act (NFA) background check and transfer process. Such firearms, which include the Barrett M82 “sniper rifle,” cost thousands of dollars and are rarely (if ever) used in crime.
Additionally, Murphy has sought to require gun safety classes for anyone seeking a gun permit; to mandate that gun owners store their firearms in a gun safe or lock box; require gun owners who move to New Jersey from other states to register for a firearm purchaser ID card and register their firearms within 30 days of moving to the state; and necessitate that manufacturers or dealers of handgun ammunition keep a detailed electronic record of ammunition sales, and report ammunition sales to the New Jersey State Police.
The governor has also been a strong proponent of microstamping technology.
“This is not an attack on the Second Amendment,” Murphy told reporters last week. “This is common sense gun safety laws.”
While many of Murphy’s proposals have been introduced in the state legislature, few have seen much movement, but supporters of the Second Amendment have warned that the governor is attempting to win by inches, not miles. Republican lawmakers in the Garden State warn that this has been his intention all along.
“The timing is intended to further tighten gun restrictions on law-abiding residents as quickly as possible, giving opponents little to no time to be heard,” said Sen. Mike Testa (R-1). “There are dozens of bills awaiting action in both houses of the Legislature that would do more to fight crime and make New Jersey communities safer for everyone. This isn’t about public safety. It’s about his ultimate goal of taking guns away from the very residents who follow our laws.”
Punishing the Many for the Crimes of a Few
Murphy has also publicly acknowledged that more than half of the New Jersey’s gun violence occurs in about five cities, which include those with lower income communities of color, such as the aforementioned Trenton and Paterson.
Yet, his actions would punish the law-abiding throughout the state.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) also warned that such actions could potentially even strip citizens in New Jersey of their Constitutional rights in their own homes.
“This Thursday, December 9, the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee is going to hear legislation that would force gun owners to store their guns and ammo under lock and key, or face felony level penalties,” the NRA-ILA stated. “S.3757 is an all-out assault on the right to self-defense, giving criminals a distinct advantage in self-defense situations. Lawmakers find it acceptable for you to be fumbling around for the keys and combinations to your safes in the middle of the night while violent, armed criminals are marching up your stairways. That is the exact scenario that will become a reality under S.3757. This bill is so bad that it requires firearms and ammunition to be stored and locked separately! This Draconian legislation completely nullifies self-defense.”
The NRA-ILA also noted that the bill would completely obliterate the right to self-defense as affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Heller.
“Responsible gun owners should be trusted to make appropriate decisions regarding the safety of their families in their own homes,” the NRA-ILA added. “Micromanaging a person’s constitutional rights in their own home is way out-of-line, and it is time for New Jersey NRA members and gun owners to say ‘enough is enough.'”
Other local gun rights groups have also been vocal in their opposition of Murphy’s anti-Second Amendment agenda.
“These measures are being put in place to increase the cost of gun ownership, to specifically target the minority and low-income community and make it more difficult, more cumbersome and more expensive for them to be able to own a firearm for self-defense,” Alejandro Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, told reporters via a statement last week.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.