New Jersey lawmakers gave final approval Monday to legislation overhauling rules to get a firearm carry permit after this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanded gun rights.
The Democrat-led Senate passed the measure in what is scheduled to be the last voting session of the year, sending the legislation to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. In an emailed statement, Murphy spokesperson Tyler Jones said the governor would “swiftly” sign the bill.
“Since day one of his administration, Governor Murphy has been vocal about his support for stronger gun safety laws in the state of New Jersey,” Jones said.
Republicans opposed the measure, raising questions about its constitutionality, and gun rights advocates predicted it wouldn’t pass constitutional muster.
The insurance requirement section of the New Jersey legislation reads in part:
Every private citizen who carries a handgun in public in this State shall maintain liability insurance coverage insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for bodily injury, death, and property damage sustained by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of a firearm carried in public wherein such coverage shall be at least in an amount or limit of $300,000, exclusive of interest and costs, on account of injury to or death of more than one person and for damage to property, in any one incident.
Proof of liability insurance shall be produced by the person carrying a handgun in public, within a reasonable amount of time following any injury, death, or property damage alleged to have been caused by the person carrying the handgun in public. This requirement shall be satisfied by delivering a full and complete copy of the applicable policy or policies of insurance that were in force at the time of the injury, death, or property damage.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, disclosure of policy information under this section shall not constitute an admission that the alleged injury, death, or property damage is subject to the policy. Information concerning the insurance policy shall not be admissible as evidence at trial by reason of disclosure pursuant to this subsection. The disclosure shall be confidential and available only to the injured person, representative of the decedent, or owner of damaged property and the attorney representing the injured person, representative of the decedent, or owner of damaged property and personnel in the office of the attorney.
A violation of this section shall be a crime of the fourth degree and shall constitute full and sufficient grounds for revocation of a permit to carry a handgun.
“The 2nd Amendment cannot be ignored because New Jersey’s majority party does not like it,” GOP state Sen. Ed Durr said during a debate on the chamber’s floor. No Democrats spoke in favor of the measure on Monday, but earlier they said they believed the measure is constitutional.
The legislation scraps New Jersey’s current requirement that those seeking a permit to carry a firearm show “justifiable need” and be of “good character” to reflect the Supreme Court’s June ruling.
Other changes in the legislation include disqualifications for those who have been confined over their mental health, people who have had restraining orders as any “fugitive from justice.”
The measure calls for the end of a paper permitting system that used quadruplicate documents to register applicants. It also would establish a yet-to-be created online gun sales portal.
It increases from three to four the number of endorsements from non-family members in order to get a permit. They would also have to be interviewed by law enforcement officials as well.
The measure also boosts training requirements, calling for online, in-person classroom and target-shooting instruction. And it would require permit carriers to carry liability insurance.
It bars people from carrying in many public places, including state buildings, schools, polling places, child-care facilities, publicly owned parks and beaches, as wells concert venues and bars.
New Jersey requires permits to both purchase as well as carry firearms. Purchase permits for handguns would go from $2 to $25 under the measure. For other firearms, the rate goes from $5 to $50. The measure calls for a $200 fee for a carrier’s permits. Current applications list a $50 fee. The increased fee would permit local governments to keep $150 for the cost of processing, with the remainder slated for the state’s office of crime victim’s compensation.
Scott Bach, the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, predicted Monday the bill would “go down in flames” and amounted to a “big middle finger” to the Supreme Court.
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