After signing a bill banning guns for New Jersey residents on
double secret probation the FBI’s unaccountable terrorist watch list and authorizing the state to impound the vehicles of citizens found with an illegal weapon, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is getting mega-props for vetoing legislation that would have banned .50-caliber rifles and created a gun owner registration scheme that would have made Russian communists blush. The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs is over the moon. [Press release after the jump.] And I guess they’re right. But Chris Christie’s tightrope act—balancing between Garden State gun grabbers and firearms owners yearning to be free—is the worst kind of sell-out politics. Presidential material? I hope not . . .
In a huge blow to anti-gun politicians and the gun ban lobby, today Governor Christie flat-out vetoed the fifty caliber ban (A3659) and conditionally vetoed two other bills – Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s “kitchen sink” F.I.D. card bill (S2723), and a bill that that would have forced the State Police to breach confidentiality of protected gun trace data in violation of federal law (A3797). A fourth bill creating a task force to study school security issues was signed by the Governor (A3583) . . .
A “conditional veto” means that the legislation is dead, unless the legislature reconvenes to resurrect it through amendments that meet strict conditions imposed by the Governor. Whether anti-gun Democrats have the stomach to swallow those conditions (see details below) remains to be seen. Alternatively, the legislature could try to override any veto (conditional or otherwise) by a 2/3 vote of both houses, which is highly unlikely given the current composition of the legislature.
“After 7 months of intense battle over misguided legislation that won’t stop another crime or prevent another tragedy, we are grateful that Governor Christie has finally ended the discussion on the worst of the bills by tossing them onto the scrap heap where they belong,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “These vetoes put gun-banning politicians on notice that exploiting tragedy to advance an agenda against legal gun owners, instead of punishing violent criminals, will not be entertained.”
Today’s actions come in the wake of last week’s signing of ten gun bills by Governor Christie (two helped gun owners, two were opposed by gun owners, and six were neutralized based on gun owner input but are appropriately very tough on violent criminals). New Jersey already has some of the strictest and most extreme gun laws in the nation.
The bill flat-out vetoed by Governor Christie today was:
A3659 – the fifty caliber gun ban that would have: prohibited high muzzle-energy guns of any caliber; blocked heirlooms from family members; held grandfathered owners civilly liable for damages if their firearms were ever used in a crime; and forfeited the pending purchase orders of licensed gun owners for these $10,000+ firearms.
The notion that banning any particular tool makes society safer is demonstrably false, and ignores the obvious reality that someone intent on doing evil will not be stopped or deterred if one particular tool becomes unavailable. “If box cutters could take down the World Trade Center, does anyone really believe that banning box cutters will stop the next terrorist?” commented Bach. “The same is true of firearms – banning the fifty caliber or any other firearm will not stop someone bent on doing evil.”
The Governor’s statement on A3659 criticizes the scope of the ban, notes drafting errors that would defeat grandfathering, and observes that rather than combating crime and terror, the bill only serves to threaten law-abiding gun owners with imprisonment for lawful recreation.
The two bills conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie today are:
S2723 – Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s “kitchen sink” FID card bill, a 42-page monstrosity universally despised by gun owners and sportsmen. The bill, touted by Democrats as the “centerpiece” of their gun bill package and a “national model,” would have: thrown out existing FID cards and replaced them with a privacy-invading driver license endorsement or other form of ID; suspended Second Amendment rights without proof of firearms training; ended firearms sales directly between background-checked licensed gun owners; and had numerous other impacts.
Under Governor Christie’s conditional veto, S2723 could only be resurrected if both houses of the legislature agreed to the following conditions:
– Remove all provisions that would have created a new electronic FID card (keeps the existing permitting system in place);
– Remove all provisions that would have suspended Second Amendment rights without proof of firearms training;
– Remove all provisions that would have ended firearms sales directly between background-checked licensed gun owners; and
– Add a provision requiring the State Police to develop and promulgate literature regarding safe firearms storage and ownership.
It is unknown whether Democratic legislative leadership would accept these conditions. While doing so would salvage what is left of their “centerpiece,” the final bill would be a gutted version, stripped of the most blatant attacks on legal gun owners, and very likely an embarrassment to Democrats.
If Democrats decided to swallow that bitter pill, other key provisions of the Sweeney bill that would be retained would include: requiring an FID card or other permit for all ammunition purchases; limiting shipment of online ammunition purchases to the address on the FID card; making it a 4th degree crime if injury or death results from the failure to properly secure firearms; making it a 4th degree crime for someone prohibited from possessing firearms to possess ammunition; requiring mental health screeners to inquire about firearms ownership of those being considered for involuntary commitment for mental health reasons; and revocation of NJ concealed carry permits upon conviction of a crime of the 4th degree or higher.
The Governor’s statement accompanying his conditional veto expressed support in principle for some of these provisions, yet also criticized the legislature as “shortsighted” for focusing on gun control instead of comprehensive violence solutions. The statement also noted the bill’s failure “to directly combat violence,” and the current unavailability of the technology that would be required to implement the digitized FID card.
A3797 – conditionally vetoed because of one section that required the State Police to breach confidentiality of federal gun trace data in direct violation of federal law that limits the data to law enforcement only. This was an attempt by frustrated gun banners to circumvent that federal law, so that idiosyncrasies of the ATF’s trace system could be exploited and manipulated to falsely suggest that law abiding citizens are a source of “crime guns.” ATF has opposed similar efforts to circumvent confidentiality, which could compromise ongoing investigations. If the legislature amends the bill to remove this illegal provision, the amended bill would then return to the Governor’s desk.
PLEASE THANK GOVERNOR CHRISTIE TODAY!
Please thank Governor Christie today for his actions on the fifty caliber ban, the Sweeney bill, and the trace data confidentiality bill. You can call the Governor’s office at 609-292-6000, write him at P.O. Box 001, Trenton, N.J. 08625, or send an email using the online contact form (select “law and public safety” from the drop-down menu, then pick any sub-topic).
And thank YOU for weathering this 7-month-long storm of the worst attacks on gun owners in state history along with us. It is because of YOUR actions, YOUR calls and letters, YOUR attendance at hearings, and YOUR refusal to give up no matter what the odds, that today’s outcome was possible.
Although today’s action marks the end of a long and very arduous battle, the fight is far from over. The most oft-repeated statement by anti-gun legislators at hearings over the past 7 months was “these bills are only the beginning.” They will be back after the November elections, and will continue their relentless attacks on legal gun ownership – and it will be up to gun owners to continue to defend freedom.