Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty Legislation to Counter Efforts to Weaken Gun Safety Regulations Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty aimed at ensuring strong gun safety regulations are codified into law in New Jersey was signed into law Thursday.

The new law aims to prevent a future governor from attempting to weaken the regulations, as former Governor Chris Christie had attempted to do.

The bill (A-2758) would codify the definition of “justifiable need,” presently outlined only in state regulations, into state statute. The measure is a response to ex-Governor Christie’s effort to expand the definition of “justifiable need” for the purpose of obtaining a gun carry permit.

Under current law, in order to lawfully carry a handgun in public, it is necessary for a private citizen to obtain a permit to carry a handgun. Applicants for a permit to carry a handgun need the approval of the chief of police in the municipality where they reside and the approval of a Superior Court judge in the county where they reside. Approval is contingent upon a person submitting, with an application, a written certification establishing justifiable need.

Under previous regulation, justifiable need was defined 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. In addition, the law requires the applicant, where possible, to corroborate the existence of any specific threats or previous attacks by reference to reports of the incidents to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
This bill codifies these regulations into statute.

Both state and federal courts upheld the constitutionality of the state’s justifiable need requirement.

Governor Christie tried to expand the scope of the right to carry well beyond what is authorized under current law and judicial interpretation,” said Moriarty. That was entirely inconsistent with the Legislature’s intent to carefully and prudently monitor who may carry a handgun, which is for the safety and wellbeing of all New Jerseyans. Now, we can do that with this new law.

The full Assembly approved the legislation, 48-26-2, in March.