LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Christie Commission Recommends Easing Gun Restrictions

By Michael Hill
Correspondent

Six weeks before the Republican presidential primary voters go to the polls, Governor Christie’s New Jersey firearm purchase and permitting commission recommends how to make it easier, clearer and faster for law-abiding New Jerseyans to buy and carry guns.

“He wants to be able to wave this before the New Hampshire audience where obviously issues around gun safety are of paramount importance,” Senator Loretta Weinberg said.

“The timing is interesting, but if he actually has been out there trying to get second amendment type people in his corner to support him for his presidential run it would have been a hell of a lot stronger,” Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll said.

The commission echoed what the New Jersey Second Amendment Society found in a series of hidden-camera recordings at local police departments that process gun purchase and carry permits. The latest one released this morning of South Plainfield where police did not respond to a request for comment.

The commission concluded that, “statutory requirements … are being applied unevenly across New Jersey townships. Unnecessary delays in processing applications and the imposition of unauthorized requirements in the application process violate the law and introduce arbitrariness to the exercise of a fundamental right.”

“Governor Christie, if he really believed in a second amendment, should have done what he did with the pension reform,” Alex Roubian, President of the NJ Second Amendment Society, said.

The governor formed and appointed three lawyers to the commission a month after an ex-boyfriend in a domestic violence case murdered Carol Bowne. She had been waiting 45 days for a gun permit when the state law limit for a decision is 30 days.

“She would sit at our kitchen table and tell us how often she went to the police telling them that he was going to kill her,” Danielle Owens, Bowne’s sister-in-law, said.

For carry permits, the commission recommends police approve applications when applicants can show an urgent need for self-protection against serious or specific threats, previous attacks and there is no alternative means of protection.

To avoid prosecution of out-of-state and legal gun owners who come to New Jersey, the commission recommends not charging gun carriers for: picking up and dropping off passengers, buying food, fuel, medicine or supplies, using a restroom or emergency situations.

The commission recommends for gun-buying permits that the state Attorney General direct police to exercise uniformity in applying the law and for state police and courts to speed up the decision process for victims of domestic violence.

“It’s pathetic that we actually have to have an Attorney General write a directive to tell the police chiefs and police offers to follow the law. That’s absurd. The problem here is that there’s no consequence,” Roubian said.

The governor’s office did not respond to our request for an interview and the state Attorney General’s office said there was no one available for interview about a topic that’s important to gun applicants and to some primary voters who will weigh in early on presidential candidates.

In January, the President of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society is going to New Hampshire at the invitation of gun rights organizations. He plans to talk about Governor Christie and guns in New Jersey.