Last month, Governor Chris Christie (R) eased concealed carry restrictions in New Jersey, citing the case of Carol Bowne, who was stabbed to death while unarmed in her own driveway in June 2015, as evidence that the gun control status quo is taking too many lives in his state.
It had been reported that Bowne had applied for a gun permit on April 21, 2015, fearing for her safety from her ex-boyfriend against whom she had obtained a protective order. On June 3, Bowne was still waiting on state’s permission to have a gun for self-defense when she was allegedly stabbed by the ex-boyfriend.
New Jersey’s Democrat-controlled pro-gun control legislature refused to make any changes to the law or regulations relating to concealed carry, so Christie and the state Attorney General’s Office sought changes through the state regulatory process and through their power to issue law-enforcement directives that apply to all local police departments.
One of the biggest obstacle Christie faced was addressing the “justifiable need” requirement the law placed on the issuance of a concealed carry permit.
The regulations require a concealed applicant to show “justifiable need” and define that as “the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.”
This “requirement” has placed a choke-hold on granting the citizens the constitutional right to self-defense that Christie felt needed to be loosened. So he and the AG’s Office are adding three words to loosen those restrictions.
This change means “justifiable need” would be defined as “the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by serious threats, specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by reasonable means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.”
Acting New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy, in conjunction with Christie’s office, issued a directive to law enforcement on April 8th requiring agencies to follow the state’s 30-day deadline for processing and allowing “serious threats” to be weighed in case-by-case decisions in granting firearm permits.
Christie said, “The terrible tragedy involving Berlin resident Carol Bowne last summer was a jarring example of a permitting system that had failed and needed to be reexamined and fixed.” Moreover, he said his actions to loosen restrictions are a much-needed guarantee that “constitutional rights will be protected and respected in New Jersey.”
However, the fight has just begun. Democrats in the legislature announced they are planning on reversing the Governor’s reforms.
“The proposed regulation by Gov. Christie’s administration is overreaching. It is far too broad with respect to concealed carry weapons,” said Assemblyman Lou Greenwald.
“If these regulations were adopted, it would allow every cab driver, pizza delivery driver, Uber driver and anyone else living or working in a high-crime neighborhood to qualify for a firearm permit,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.
Apparently, these people do not deserve the constitutional right to defend themselves.
Jeremy Rosen, a spokesman for Christie, dismissed the Democrats’ complaint as “hysteria some people will always generate over gun rights.”
In an email issued by Rosen, he stated, “[T]he proposed changes harmonize New Jersey firearm regulations with the existing Supreme Court precedent on an individual’s justifiable need to carry a handgun, while maintaining statutory standards that balance the safety of the general public with an individual’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
The two Democrat lawmakers introduced a resolution on April 25, 2016, that says the proposed rule change “is not consistent with legislative intent.
If the resolution passes the Legislature, the Christie administration would have 30 days to withdraw or amend the changes. If that does not happen, the Legislature can block the changes by holding a hearing and then 20 days later, vote on a second resolution to invalidate the proposal.