I recently had the pleasure of teaching another class in New Jersey (or, as some of my colleagues in the gun owners’ civil rights movement elsewhere might put it, behind enemy lines.) There are few places left in America where the gun laws are more Draconian than they are in the Garden State.
The class had been arranged by my usual host in that state, Anthony Colandro, a tireless fighter for gun owners’ rights.
NJ is a classic example of why egalitarian “shall issue” permitting is so important, and why more than a dozen states now have followed the Vermont Model in which no permit is required to carry a loaded handgun concealed for protection in public. New Jersey is one of the relatively few remaining states which requires the applicant to show that they customarily carry large amounts of cash, negotiable securities, etc., or have already been attacked or received serious death threats, to have any hope of getting the permit. This “may issue” policy has, predictably, resulted in a situation where practically speaking, only the rich and influential are likely to get the permit to protect themselves and their families in public.
Not surprisingly, NJ does not recognize carry permits from any other state. Moreover, the lucky few who do have permits to carry there are forbidden to load with hollow point ammunition, though the state attorney general’s office has supposedly approved expanding bullets with nose caps (Hornady Critical Defense, Federal Expanding Full Metal Jacket, Cor-Bon Pow’rBall). Yet another reason to hope for the passage of national reciprocity.
There are a few bright spots. Governor Chris Christie seems to have given up on BS gun control theories and has repeatedly granted relief to innocent people who were licensed to carry and got jammed up because they didn’t realize that, unlike their marriage licenses and drivers’ licenses, their licenses to carry were not recognized in New Jersey.
Fortunately, gun owners’ groups like NJSAFE continue to be voices of reason, with positive activism as manifested here.
As I told my students there, “Pennsylvania accepts refugees!” That said, though, I admire the determination of those who have decided to stay in New Jersey and fight for their civil rights. Their mission is a righteous one.