Lawmakers: Rule Expanding ‘Justifiable Need’ Standard Inconsistent with Legislative Intent
Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto sponsored to object to the Christie administration’s recent action to loosen New Jersey’s strict gun laws was approved by the General Assembly on Thursday.
The resolution (ACR-234) asserts the legislature’s support for a lawsuit against the Christie administration to challenge the rule expanding the justifiable need standard for issuing handgun carry permits. Despite the legislature’s 2016 action to prohibit the adoption of regulations proposed by the administration to expand the definition of “justifiable need” for the purpose of obtaining a gun carry permit, the Christie administration last week adopted the regulations. Under the regulations, an applicant’s proof that he or she faces a “serious threat” – not a specific threat – would suffice as a reason to obtain a handgun carry permit.
“The governor took deliberate and unilateral action in defiance of the legislature, and if legal action is what it takes to keep the people of New Jersey safe, then we have a duty to pursue that option,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “A proactive attitude toward firearm safety has resulted in New Jersey having the strongest gun safety laws in the nation and ranking among states with the fewest gun deaths in the nation. The legislature cannot in good faith allow the governor’s effort to jeopardize that status go unchallenged.”
“As Governor Christie bypasses the legislature in an effort to earn his stripes within certain circles in Washington, he puts the lives of people here in New Jersey at risk,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “In the face of the governor’s disregard for the state constitution and the democratic process, it’s only right for the legislature to turn to the judiciary. The public safety implications of these regulations make that imperative all the more urgent.”
The lawmakers note that the rule expanding the justifiable need standard for issuing handgun carry permits is inconsistent with the intent of the legislature, which is evidenced by the state’s history of regulating the possession and use of firearms in an effort to ensure public safety.
Under the resolution, the Senate president and the Assembly speaker may take any necessary action for their respective houses to participate in any legal action and to pay attorneys’ fees and other related fees or costs.
The Assembly passed the measure 46-29. The Senate passed its version of the measure, SCR-149, on Monday.