Press release from The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club [via Ammoland.com]: In a blockbuster announcement yesterday, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed two pieces of anti-gun legislation (A3689 and S816), imposing dramatic conditions that would change them into pro-gun measures establishing shall-issue right-to-carry and repealing New Jersey’s 2002 “smart gun” law mandate with no strings attached. Copies of the vetoes are available here and here.
The “conditional veto” procedure allows the governor to reject legislation that reaches his desk and propose a re-written version to the legislature. If the legislature concurs in the conditions imposed by the governor, then the measure as re-written becomes law immediately. Otherwise, the legislation dies.
“Governor Christie has made a bold and defiant statement to the legislature in support of the Second Amendment,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “Not only has he rejected their medieval schemes to block self-defense, but he has fired back in a way that forces them to choose squarely between citizen empowerment or victimization in the post-Orlando era of terror attacks on U.S. soil.”
“One inescapable truth is that government cannot protect you when evil strikes,” continued Bach. “The only solution is citizen empowerment, and it is the legal, moral and Constitutional imperative of government to facilitate and not block self-defense.”
A3689 (Right to Carry)
This spring, the State Police promulgated new regulations on right to carry that were recommended by Governor Christie. The regulations would have allowed those facing “serious threats” to satisfy the near-impossible “justifiable need” standard to qualify for a carry permit – an incremental improvement in right to carry.
Outraged by the new regulations, and distraught that more “commoners” might be able to protect themselves, anti-gun legislators (who themselves enjoy the armed protection of State House security) fast-tracked resolutions this spring to kill the new regulations before they were even formally adopted.
They invoked an obscure procedural trick in the state constitution allowing the legislature to invalidate regulations that conflict with legislative intent. But the legislature never expressed any intent as to what constitutes “justifiable need” – it is undefined in the statute, and the current definition was first created by the courts, and then adopted imprecisely by the State Police in their administrative regulations. The new regulations now at issue seek to fix the original imprecision and make the regulations consistent with court opinion.
So it is highly debatable whether there is even a conflict with legislative intent that would allow the legislature to invoke the obscure constitutional procedure to invalidate the new regulations. Legislative leaders are aware of this, which is why they introduced A3689 to begin with – it’s a stunt to fabricate legislative intent where none existed previously. It seeks to take the current imprecise administrative regulation defining and severely limiting justifiable need and cement it into state statute for all time.
By doing so, the bill tries to retroactively “install” legislative intent into the statute. A3689 was sponsored by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D6).
Governor Christie’s conditional veto of A3689 rejects this attempt to freeze the definition of justifiable need for all time, and instead completely eliminates justifiable need as a requirement to obtain a carry permit in the first place! It would turn New Jersey into a shall-issue state, and Governor Christie specifically calls for New Jersey to become shall-issue – making him the first governor in state history to both acknowledge and try to implement shall-issue carry!
Here is a key quote from Governor Christie’s veto message on A3689:
“For decades, law-abiding residents of New Jersey have had their Second Amendment right to self-protection burdened by gun laws that are among the most unreasonable in the country. . . . Rather than doubling down on the unreasonable requirements for law-abiding residents of New Jersey to obtain a concealed carry permit, I propose having New Jersey join the 42 other states that have adopted a “shall-issue” standard for approving such applications.”
S816 Analysis (Smart Guns)
New Jersey’s 2002 “smart gun” law, when triggered, would become a ban on sale or transfer of every conventional handgun ever made. It mandates that only “smart” handguns can be purchased or sold once the state Attorney General determines that there is a viable smart gun for sale anywhere in the U.S.
The law backfired, because it tipped the hand of the national gun ban movement, revealing that they were going to use technology an excuse to ban conventional handguns nationwide as in New Jersey. That made the smart gun idea wildly unpopular among gun owners, and the technology has not significantly developed since.
Under national pressure to do something to remove this perceived impediment to the development of smart guns, State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D37) introduced S816 to supposedly “repeal” the smart gun law.
Although the bill would remove the 2002 ban on conventional handguns, it is badly tainted because it swaps in a new mandate in its place, forcing every New Jersey firearms dealer to stock and display smart guns for sale – essentially compelling market acceptance of the technology instead of letting the free market decide.
The effort to coerce smart guns onto the market by bullying dealers suggests that politicians will be back with their ban on all conventional handguns soon after an artificial market for the new and unproven technology is created. The legislation would also create a new politically-controlled commission to approve smart guns for sale, eliminating the more neutral and objective state Attorney General from that decision.
Governor Christie’s conditional veto of S816 would remove the new dealer mandate, eliminate the politically-controlled commission, and turn the legislation into what it should have been in the first place – a clean and simple repeal of the mandate / handgun ban from the 2002 smart gun law.
About Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs:The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, Inc. is the official NRA State Association in New Jersey. Our mission is to implement all of the programs and activities at the state level that the NRA does at the national level. This mission includes the following: To support and defend the constitutional rights of the people to keep and bear arms. To take immediate action against any legislation at the local, state and federal level that would infringe upon these rights. Visit: www.anjrpc.org