New Jersey has seen at least seven mass shootings in the past year, but have the cold hard facts of senseless violence impelled Governor Chris Christie to strengthen gun laws? Well, no. The opposite.
The state's Firearm Permitting and Purchasing Study Commission has offered up three proposed changes to New Jersey gun regulations, all of were accepted by Christie and will thus become law without any need for input from the Democratic Legislature. The commission was formed partially in response to the murder of Carol Bowne, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend while her application for a handgun permit was being processed.
You can read the full report here [PDF], but the upshot is:
Permitting was found to have been "unevenly" applied across New Jersey's townships, so regulations will be broadened to apply to more people who desire firearms for protection. The qualifications for "justifiable need" have also been expanded, and applications from victims of domestic violence will be expedited.
In some cases, out-of-state residents passing through New Jersey with firearms legally owned in their home states will not be prosecuted. For instance, gun owners are required to go from point-to-point unless a stop is deemed "reasonably necessary," the criteria for which does not currently exist.
Lastly, the Attorney General will crack down on towns that fail to speedily process gun permit applications, and processing times will be collected and published in an effort to create greater transparency.
"New Jersey citizens should be permitted to defend themselves and not encounter unlawful delays and impediments," Christie said a statement released to media, adding that the commission provided "a set of recommendations that I am proud to wholeheartedly embrace. We will work through the Attorney General to put these changes into effect as quickly as possible."
The plan was roundly excoriated by both sides of the gun control debate. Senate Democrats sniffed at Christie's handpicked commission—which consists of a retired Morristown police officer, a former assistant U.S. attorney general under Christie, and the vice dean of Seton Hall Law School, who is married to Christie's chief ethics officer. They also charged that the findings aimed specifically to appeal to the early-voting state of New Hampshire, where the governor's bid for the Republican nomination for president currently lags behind both Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio.
They also slammed the report's timing, as well as Christie's inscrutable commission appointment process and the opaque methodology when it came to the findings.
Nor did the commission's recommendations appeal to Second Amendment enthusiasts, who bristled at the notion that carry permits need to exist at all, rather than loosen the definition of "justifiable need."
"We're dumbfounded that any Second Amendment supporter would consider this a success," Alexander Roubian, the president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Rights Society, told NJ.com. "If he walks into Iowa and New Hampshire with this report, he will be booed and kicked out of that state faster than he can believe it."