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I found out that New Jersey doesn’t allow mere citizens to pump their own gas the hard way. I was on a college tour with my son, driving from Connecticut to D.C. on I-95 when the needle dipped below the 1/4 point somewhere in the Garden State across the river from New York City. When I got out of my car at the nearest filling station and moved toward the gas pump, I heard, “Don’t touch that!” I turned to see a big dudeĀ named Paulie or Vinnie or something like that heading my way. He made it abundantly clear, with characteristic east coast charm, that pumping gas was his job and that I should sit my ass back down in my car. What does this have to do with guns? . . .

There’s a movement afoot to end this jobs program, funded on the backs of New Jersey’s car owners via higher gas prices, and let people pump their own petrol.

And in promoting a bill that would allow just that, Garden State legislator Declan O’Scanlon had this to say:

…it shouldn’t be a criminal act to do in New Jersey what people are perfectly, safely and reasonably doing in 49 other states every single day.

We couldn’t agree more, Rep. O’Scanlon. But let’s not stop at filling your tank.

People in about 45 other states are walking around every day with guns on their hips. Exercising their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and their loved ones. Those guns are used – even by the most conservative estimates – thousandsĀ of times a day to prevent crimes and protect them from grievous bodily harm. Or worse.

But not in New Jersey. Nope, America’s armpit is one of those few remaining dank corners of the anti-gun landscape where unless you work in security or demonstrate “an urgent necessity for carrying guns for self-protection,” you’re SOL RKBA-wise.

To be fair, Rep. O’Scanlan’s on the pro-gun side. Well, the NRA gives him an A rating, for whatever that’s worth.

So here’s to Mrs. Scanlon’s son Declan. Let’s hope he succeeds in his quest to allow New Jerseyans to put a few gallons of regular into the Civic, unsupervised. From there, anything’s possible. Right?

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  1. Perhaps a Jersey boy or gal can weigh in, but NJ gas is not pricier than in other states (at least the last time I drove through), and my NJ friends told me the law was passed for the benefit of the handicapped, who would otherwise pay a premium for full service — not because they didn’t trust the proles to pump their own gas.

    • Umm, I’m guessing if the intent was to help out the handicapped they could have passed a “no extra charge for full service for the handicapped” law, instead of an “if you dare try to pump your own gas you are an enemy of the state!” law.

      • I am not so credulous as to assume that’s the only or even the true motive behind the law. However, we have seen countless times that when a government body wants to fix a problem, the simplest solution is rarely what results.

        • As a New Yorker and a gun owner, I would never defend NJ for anything. I will however mention that NJ gas prices are actually much cheaper than in NY. Usually buy about .40 a gallon, and that’s comparing NY self serve prices to NJ full serve prices. From what I understand, gas is actually subsidized in NJ. I never checked to see if that was true or not. Just what I’ve heard over the years.

        • I wouldn’t doubt that gas is subsidized, despite how little oil companies need subsidizing, because we are, at least on paper, the most corrupt state government in the union according to legal record.

          That said, I think our gas is some of the cheapest in the nation at least partially because it has to travel so short a distance on the most expensive transport in the chain, tractor-trailers. New Jersey is the port that accepts the gas for the Northeast from Texas.

          We need it to be legal to pump your own gas like we need a fucking hole in the head. I pass my gas station every day on the way to work and it just went up four cents to $2.49/gallon for regular, cash or credit (not always the same, but this is at Wawa). My brother in NYC pays over $3 a gallon for the same grade, self-serve, cash, less than 50 miles away.

          This is publicity at best. Someone wants to run for a higher office. Not that I’d complain about an NRA A-rated governor, as, aside from lame-ducking the 10-round magazine limit last year into the trash, Christie has done fuckall for us and we sorely need gun law reform here. Even cops complain that the laws suck because THEY can’t privately own anything fun, either.

    • Gas is cheap in NJ. I know many out-of-staters that fill before they leave.

      The pump-your-own is a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit in the car and have somebody else pump in the icy cold wind. Other times it sucks, like when they take forever to walk over, or they stupidly attempt to pump regular into a car that takes premium no matter how many times you yell “PREMIUM” or “93” or whatever. A lot of pump attendants are cool if you are in something that looks vintage/expensive and will let you pump your own anyway. But not always.

      • Differences in gasoline prices across the country are mostly the effect of different state and local taxes. Additionally, federal laws regulating fuel blending (anti-pollution) and transportation cost from the refinery will have an impact.

        I remember when self-serve was a novel idea, offered at a discount of a few cents with self-serve pumps next to full serve pumps. Since then, the free market has made it the norm. Except in the Peoples Republic of New Jersey.

        • And Oregon! You can pump your own diesel but not gasoline because it is just too dangerous for citizens to handle without specialized training.

        • “and transportation cost from the refinery will have an impact.”

          If there’s one thing Jersey has, it’s refineries. From Trenton up through Jersey City, it’s the east coast’s own version of ‘Damnation Alley’, nearly solid heavy chemical industry.


          Sometimes I miss New Jersey.

          Then I wake up.

      • And when I’m headed in from Pennsylvania, I’ll run my tank darn near dry as I approach NJ. Got all the “border” stations committed to memory, too. With a 40 gallon tank in my van, it’s significant.

      • Give up one of the few perks in NJ to please a twisted version of Republican ideology? No thanks. I prefer not to have gassy smelling hands while still paying less than other states for self serve. Now I would give up full service for a complete removal of NJ’s stupid gun control laws but not to please some bitching rednecks who don’t even live in this state.

    • Wow, NJ needed a *law* so that business owners didn’t abuse the handicapped? Every state that I’ve lived in (that never included NJ) the gas pumps had a sign that said to honk or push the call button for special assistance, never charged a dime. Is NJ a special place of assholes or something?

    • “NJ gas is not pricier than in other states”

      State to state is not the comparison. If a station spends more on payroll in order to have people on hand to pump your gas for you, then it could sell gas cheaper without those people, and still make the same profit. This is not rocket science, the free market decided it 40+ years ago, and it is none of the government’s business, state or fed.

      • How do you know it is the freemarket and not just the CEOs cutting corners to to fill their pockets more at your expense? Just because they laid off gas attendents doesn’t mean they will charge you any less, they can and do charge you the same amount so they get a higher profit margins. The fact that NJ gas even with full service is still less than self service in your state proves this. Oil companies are not nice guys and they could not care less if they screw the whole world over to make an extra buck.

        • “Economics In One Lesson” can be found used online for a good price, and is widely available.

  2. NJ gas is actually cheaper than surrounding areas but it is partly paid through taxes. The program is disguised as a jobs program when it really is a Fund a Union program. There are several union bosses and cohorts that are making 100k a year off this ‘program’. These pumpers are paying into a union that most will never work long enough to take a pension.

    • Wait I pumped gas for almost 3 years as a kid and never heard of any union. I wasnt working at uncle Vinnie’s Gas-O-Rama either, it was a major retailer. Though we did tell people our job title was a petroleum distribution engineer. My buddy even put that on a job application for dispatcher at the PD.

    • hahaha as if gas pumpers are in a union!

      Some people will blame everything on their bugaboo.

  3. New Jerseys low violent crime rate proves that Police States are working for YOU America!

    Many of them are actually PROUD of their view that the Constitution should be ignored, because safety.

    • You can in certain parts of Oregon, between 6pm and 6am as of this June (if I remember correctly). Pretty sure they are trying to phase it out entirely.

      • That’s right, it’ll be for rural areas under a certain population count. One of the reasons they gave was so people wouldn’t run out of gas late at night when rural filling stations may be far between.

        The rural thing was sort of a concession. They’ve been trying to cover the whole state but that wasn’t popular. This legislative session, they even tried it with wording such that current pump jockeys couldn’t be terminated wily nilly after the law passed.

        Driving a vehicle owned by a business–work van–I can pump my own gas. However, it’s never worth trying to explain it to the too-busy-to-get-to-me attendant.

    • You can pump your own diesel, but don’t touch that gas pump.
      And NO TOPPING OFF! It’s bad for, uh, um, well, they told us it was bad…

      • I do like the fact that at most stations I can pump my own, I have a VW TDi. I love the look of some of the people I get when I just hop out and start pumping. It is like “How Dare HE!”

      • You can also pump your own gas into a motorcycle, because that is specialized equipment or something.

        I grew up in OR, and I don’t really mind someone pumping my gas; I live in WA now, and I don’t really mind pumping my own gas. The prices are, essentially, the same. What I have a hard time with is remembering to switch between the two when I’m going back and forth; e.g. traveling down I-84W to I-5N, through Longview, then US30W to the coast. I, inevitably, either end up sitting there waiting for an attendant in Longview, or jump out of my vehicle in Rainier/Clatskanie/Astoria to pump some gas. Either way, though, it is just a bit of embarassment, and not really any trouble. People in OR (and WA) are polite and understanding… unlike the description of the attendant in NJ.

      • There’s actually a reason why topping off can be problematic. As temperatures vary, the volume of gas in the tank also changes, and it needs a certain free volume to expand into. When you work around the cutoff switch to top off, you’re basically defeating that safety margin, and depending on the weather, end up with excessive gasoline vapor where it shouldn’t be, or even spilling gas over the road sometime later.

        If that doesn’t convince you, perhaps the fact that it also affects your wallet will. When you top off, more likely than not, the gas pump will turn on the vapor recovery system, treating at least part of that excess gas as vapor, and sucking it back in. But because it already went through the meter, you have paid for it as gas.

        • Expansion after overfilling causes liquid gas to be forced into the charcoal canister on the tank vent.

    • I hated letting someone else fill my 69 Mustang up in Oregon. I would tell the worker to not dump gas down the back of the car and all over the chrome bumper. If that was too hard for them then let me handle the removal.

      I had some guy tell me he would be careful! Then he proceeded to dump gas down the back of my call all over my freshly cleaned and polished chrome bumper. When I moved to Texas my bumper magically stopped having gas residue down the back of my car.

      • In OR they do have a provision for pumping your own to avoid damage to custom stuff; that was the basis upon which the motorcyclists can pump their own rule came to be. Gas station attendants can not be trusted to be truly careful about what they are doing.

    • When I moved to Washington, I stopped in Oregon for gas. The one attendant on duty was dealing with somebody else, so he couldn’t get to me in time to stop me from starting the pump (I was unaware it was illegal, but would have ignored the law anyway). When he walked over, he told me I couldn’t pump my own gas, because it was against the law. I asked if he was going to call the cops on me, and he didn’t have a response. Then while he was back at the other car, using his extensive training to pull out the dangerous fuel pump, I pulled mine, closed the tank, and left.

      In the future, I’ll make sure I have a full tank, before leaving the free side of the Columbia.

    • There used to be an exception for pumping gas at stores where gas wasn’t the primary business, if the store was blow a certain size and typically had only one employee. They fiddled with that one; not sure what the changes were but the place I used to be asked to pump my own now pretty much locks the store and pumps the gas for me.

  4. The only time I’d be in New Jersey would be if I was kidnapped. And I’m only going to get kidnapped if I run out of ammo.

  5. I live in PA but work in NJ and I buy my gas in NJ because it is 42 cents a gallon CHEAPER than my local PA price, 2.47 vs. 2.89 as of today. I have heard all sorts of reasons why NJ won’t let people pump their own gas. Here are a few I remember from politicians past & present:
    1. “It’s unsafe for people to pump their own gas, because they are untrained and it would cause fires.” (death and destruction, sound familiar? The implication is NJ residents are too stupid to pump gas and need a “trained professional” to do ti for them)
    2. (heard this yesterday) “There are 14,000 people employed state-wide to pump gas. Loosing all those jobs at once would be like closing the 5th largest company down in the state. It would hurt the economy state-wide.” And we all know what a great job it is to pump gas, no benefits, no paid holidays, no retirement, and minimum wage in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the country.
    3. “It is better to have professional people pump gas so that there is more control over how fuel is dispensed.” I suppose this is for when rationing happens during a crisis and 5 gallon limits are imposed? Or maybe it’s to keep fuel out of the hands of terrorists? illegal aliens? Republicans?

    • I heard the same reasons on NPR yesterday. As many employees as the the 5th largest company isn’t good thing if those employees add no productivity to the economy.

      • It’s a very bad thing. It’s effectively no different than welfare. It takes money from people who earn it and gives it to others, without producing anything of value. You might as well pay them to dig and fill in ditches (Project Veritas did an undercover interview with a New Jersey politician who thought that was a great use of taxpayer money, as long as they were union jobs). Are the gas pumpers…I mean filling station attendants…union? If so, they’ll never go away.

    • Makes sense! With gas rationing, a guy making minimum wage with zero education would be our best control over cheating by people in their Cadillacs and BMWs, absolutely beyond corruption!

    • 1. Dumb statist claptrap
      2. If NJ was more friendly to business (i.e., less regulation-happy), pump jockeys wouldn’t be the “5th largest company” in the state.
      3. Dumb statist claptrap

  6. The last time I worked at a gas station was after my military time. In wv we had 2 sets of pumps. 1 was self serve and the other full serve. Station policy was for handicapped folks to pull into self serve and we’d pump for them.

    But, in my experience, the truly handicapped had too much pride and self suffiency to let you.

    The phony, bad back and workmans comp types would gladly let you wait on them. I watched a guy in a folding wheel chair get out of his car and pump his own gas in a rain storm and during the same storm had a guy with one of those sponge collars for his neck sit his a*s in the car while I waited on him.

    • There’s a difference between a new injury and an older one.
      The person in the folding wheelchair has likely used a wheelchair for a period of time, and the feeling of independence is important.
      The person in the neck supporting collar was likely recently injured, and is still coming to terms with what that entails.
      I worked in a building with a woman who was lifetime confined to a wheelchair. She’d often struggle to maneuver, and you had to go outside to get to the parking elevator.
      Most times, she didn’t want any assistance, but when she was feeling particularly poorly or tired, she was grateful for assistance.
      My wife has chronic illnesses, and it takes a toll on you, and losing the feeling of being able to operate independently is depressing, so people like her will do things that are exhausting, simply to maintain that feeling of independence.
      People who have recently been independent haven’t lost the feeling of independence are as such are often more willing to accept assistance from others, because it’s not going to be permanent.

  7. Declan’s a good guy and he always votes pro-gun. It’s a uphill battle for a Conservative Republican in a blue state like NJ.

  8. I drove to NYC from VA on an ambulance transport once, stopped at a rest area in NJ to fill up with diesel. Either that law exempts diesel or I got lucky because I filled up myself and nobody said a thing. I’ll give credit to NJ, they have the nicest rest stops with fuel and restaurants every few miles, and it gives the troopers a place to hang out. Never saw one on the road, just several drinking coffee and holding up the walls.

    • I’ve gone the length of the turnpike a few times, and stopped for fuel at those stations that are in the middle of the turnpike. They never had anyone to pump gas for me. That might have been because I always made sure to go through NYC and NJ in the middle of the night, or because the turnpike stations are exempt.

  9. There are valid reasons why people who vote for Chris Christie and the usual Democrat suspects should not be allowed to pump their own gas or carry guns — obvious stupidity being just one.

  10. “… driving from Connecticut to D.C. on I-95 …” See, that was your first mistake … Stop looking at colleges that require you to drive between those areas.

  11. Actaully, you can only pump your own gas in 48 other states, not 49. You can’t pump your own gas in Oregon either. I’ve always found that be be idiotic…despite the reasoning. Since I’m from Washington and seldom get into Oregon anyway, it’s not that big of a deal, but every time I have ever stopped to get gas in Oregon, I have never remembered that you can’t pump your own gas.
    I’ve never had Mr. Snot Ball come out and be a jerk about it though. That’s would have gone over with me like a fart in church.

    • I had forgotten as well, last week, when I was reminded while on a family coast run.

      Heck, I was returning to Washington and forgot I was South of the Columbia on my last top-off.

      Was feistily reminded by the dedicated pump jockey..

  12. Ya’ learn something every day…not that I’m ever going to joisey…I worked in a gas station many years ago(70’s) just when the self-serve thing was happening. It did NOT make things better because we didn’t have pay 1st yet…

  13. You mean to tell me there are people in NJ who believe you can pump your own gas and own guns…

    Well, sh*t! I guess we should fill-up, arm- up, then kick this Da Lorean up to 88mph, and go back to the future.

  14. One practical point of note regarding NJ gas. Its still cheaper than it is in NY, CT, MA or anywhere else on the east coast, even at a mandated full service.

    When I went to engineering school in Hoboken, NJ, I always made a point of gassing up before driving home to CT. Yes it took longer because often VinnieTony had multiple cars to fill. But I typically saved 30 cents/gal.

    I know this has nothing to do with rights, and I agree that the law is ridiculous. But before we complain, this law is essentially a jobs program paid for by the state taking LOWER gas taxes. I’d rather have it go to VinnyTony than to the state.


    • How is that any different than it going to the state, and the state sending a welfare check to VinnyTony?

  15. NJ gas is cheaper but I usually end up getting it in PA because I’m impatient. There is usually a huge line of cars waiting to get gas at the stations because of the attendants.

  16. Being a Libertarian and a Pennsylvanian, I’d rather freeze my butt off once in a while and be able to pump my own gas than live in Nanny Joisey any day. It’s a shame, because NJ has a proud history in the forming of our ‘more perfect union’, but at this point essentially belongs on the Left Coast – with the folks who think the Constitution is some outdated piece of paper that magically created itself.

    • Left Coast? Here in Washington, we can pump our own fuel, paid for by our untaxed (at the state level) income, while open carrying without a permit, on the way to the gun store to pick up a suppressed SBR (after the standard ATF paperwork and delay) with a 100-round drum magazine, without needing a license or permit.

      • Can pretty much do the same here too, btw. But I still concede to your point. I will try refrain from such generalizations in the future. I love the Great NW myself, having spent considerable time with my Uncle in OR flying over Mt St Helens in ’80 after the eruption – so I should have known better. I guess in my mind, NW is not part of the ‘left coast’ term that I casually used there.

  17. I had a run-in with a surly gas attendant, similar to that reported by the author.
    I waited until he finished pumping and reached for the gas cap. I took the cap from him, and told it was my company’s policy (I was sole stockholder and CEO of my corporation) that the driver assigned to the vehicle was the only person authorized to operate or handle any part of the vehicle.
    That left him speechless.
    That was the only time I had any problem pumping my own gas in NJ. I give my credit card to the attendant, so he knows I’m paying for the gas. When the pump shuts off, I top it off, replace the cap, and get my receipt — usually with a “Thank you” from the attendant for saving his time.

    • On the Oregon coast, if things are busy I’ll often open my own gas cap and stick the gas nozzle in. I only get hollered at if I squeeze the trigger to make gas flow. I used to occasionally grab it and round up to the nearest quarter on the display, but now with the “No topping off!” law I get hollered at for that — even though the law allows rounding up so long as it isn’t topping off.

  18. How about a campaign – maybe a bumper sticker:

    Are Jersey girls too irresponsible to:
    – pump their own gas?
    – carry a gun?
    – have a slingshot?

    Maybe, after decades of being shamed for hailing from New Jersey, the voters would begin to get the idea. If their legislators don’t trust them to do these things then there is something – something really peculiar – that is just WRONG. Is it something wrong about:
    – NJ citizens? or,
    – NJ legislators?

  19. Allowing gas jockeys is a jobs program in New Jersey. I bet they are unionized too.

    But whataya gonna do about it?!

  20. I’d been to NJ before, but the first time I ever drove in NJ was only about seven years ago on business. Stopping to refuel the rental car on the way to Newark International, I had no idea that mandatory full serve even existed.

    As I reached for the nozzle, this scruffy looking station attendant, who looked to me like a homeless guy, but with a company shirt on, grabbed it first and proceeded to refuel my car. I didn’t know who he was or what the hell his deal was.

    I was thinking he was a NJ version of those aggressive NY squeegee men who’d “clean” your windshield unilaterally, then demand payment. This guy turned out to be just the attendant and doing his state-mandated job. He did seem to expect a tip, which I stiffed him on because at that moment I thought the whole thing was some kind of set up.

  21. Pump your own petrol? There will be gas in the streets, I tell ya! GAS IN THE STREETS!

  22. I was told the reason you can’t pump your own gas in NJ stems from the 1967 Newark riots. Rioters were filling up their own containers and then using the gas for Molotov cocktails and arson.

    Source was a National Guardsman who was on duty during those riots.

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