Garden State Governor Chris Christie issued the following press release concerning self-defense and gun rights. [Click here for copies of Executive Order 180. Click here for the new Attorney General regulation.]
Acting on his commitment to ensure a fair application of the state’s gun laws that respects individual rights to possess firearms and that also protects public safety, Governor Christie today took action to make commonsense changes to New Jersey’s gun regulations that ensure victims of domestic violence or violent crime, or those living under a direct or material threat, have their firearms applications processed quickly and without delay. The Governor announced that the Attorney General will file a regulatory change that will ensure expedited, priority firearm application processing for victims of domestic violence, violent crimes, or those who have a demonstrable threat against them, including those who are seeking to obtain or carry firearms for self-protection . . .
“I have always said that when there are sensible changes to improve our laws and the fair administration of justice, I will take action, and that is what I am doing today. The Constitution grants and our courts have affirmed the individual right to bear arms as a fundamental right, and that is all the more important for those who are victims of violence or under threat,” said Governor Christie. “This commonsense step will protect the rights of victims and people at risk of violent acts by giving them priority, while ensuring the core protections of the permitting process remain fully in effect.”
The Governor has spoken out about the tragic murder of Carol Bowne, a Camden County resident, by her ex-boyfriend earlier this month. Bowne secured a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend and filed an application for a handgun permit in April. Less than two months later, and with her application delayed beyond the 30-day statutory deadline for its processing, she was stabbed to death in her front yard by her ex-boyfriend.
Under the changes proposed by the Governor today, such an application would be reviewed and processed for approval or rejection on an expedited, 14-day basis, if possible, if either of the following circumstances exist:
- · That the applicant has been the victim of violence or threatened with violence or a deadly weapon and there is a substantial likelihood of another such incident in the foreseeable future.
- ·The applicant is living under a demonstrable threat, vis-à-vis court-ordered protection in the form of a restraining order or some other condition imposed by the court, restraining another person from contact with the applicant where there is a substantial likelihood that the applicant will be the victim of violence or threatened with a deadly weapon in the foreseeable future.
In addition, if either of the above circumstances exist, the new regulation would provide for the same expedited and priority processing for a permit to carry application, and would be deemed to meet the “justifiable need” standard required for a permit to carry a firearm to be issued.
Apart from the submission of the new regulation, Governor Christie also signed Executive Order No. 180, creating the New Jersey Firearm Purchase and Permitting Study Commission, with the specific task of reviewing the state’s laws, regulations and procedures pertaining to the ownership and possession of firearms and ensuring they do not infringe on New Jerseyans’ constitutional rights. Based on its findings, the Study Commission will recommend any appropriate modifications to the existing licensing process.
In the coming days and weeks, Governor Christie will name three members with experience in law enforcement and/or criminal law to serve as the Study Commission’s membership. Upon being named and meeting, the Commission will report back to the Governor within 90 days on its findings and recommendations.