When firearms enthusiasts get to chatting about their favorite subject, bystanders might as well get comfortable. I routinely enjoy these discussions, if only to see guys nicknamed “Da’ GunZlinger” use “milliradian” in a sentence.
Over the weekend, I participated in one such impromptu panel of citizens. The original topic was “best scopes for a new AR rifle” (my suggestion: learn to shoot well with iron sights, then spend as much on optics as your wife will on that next pair of shoes she’s only going to wear once). True to form, the conversation trended toward liberal assaults on the Bill of Rights. One poster mentioned an interesting development in New Jersey, where State Senator Jeff Van Drew has introduced a bill to ease the burden on Garden Staters who wish to legally carry their firearms.
The bill is far from ideal; among its tenets is a requirement that New Jersey residents who wish to carry pay an annual fee of $500. However, closer examination of S2264 reveals some noteworthy details.
I am troubled by the annual levy of $500. This is the United States of America, not the Pelosi Palisades Golf and Racquet Club. There is no membership fee in the Bill of Rights. In fact, the Constitution itself says so — most recently in the text of the 24th Amendment. The idea that any government, whether Federal, State or municipal, would apply an onerous charge to the exercising of a citizen’s rights is beyond repellent.
But there are some aspects of Van Drew’s bill which pique my interest in a positive manner. Surprisingly, Van Drew is a Democrat, although I’m guessing he’s a bit lonely at party conventions. And his bill would begin rectifying New Jersey’s heavy-handed carry laws.
Under current law, seekers must convince their local police chief AND a superior court judge of dire “justifiable need” for a carry permit. Not to seem impolitic, but if the need in question is that justifiable, it’s probably too late to track down Sheriff Andy and Judge Roy Bean. Leave it to a liberal to put that point into perfect perspective by missing the mark entirely. According to Bryan Miller, Executive Director of some wingnut group called Ceasefire NJ:
"It’s very simple: Do we want to be standing in line at a grocery store, at a movie theater, sitting next to someone… not knowing whether that person is legally carrying a handgun?"
Um… that would be a resounding YES. Mr. Miller, I LOVE the idea of every half-baked crackhead, mugger, thug and villain having that exact question weighing on their minds.
Currently, the Garden State requires fingerprinting and background checks for each handgun purchased, whether the purchaser intends to carry it — or use it to prop up the coffee table. And shooters had better plan ahead if they intend to go pop a few off at the range. During transport, each pistol must be placed, unloaded, in a fastened case and carried in the trunk of a vehicle. If the vehicle has no trunk, the unloaded handgun must be kept in a locked box out of reach of passengers. “See here, Mr. Carjacker. If you would kindly wait for me to unlock my trunk…”
President Barack Obama’s “home” state of Illinois has among the most restrictive carry permit laws in the nation. And yet, when it comes to violent crimes per/100,000 population, the margin between the Sultanate of the Sainted Community Activist and Tony Soprano-ville isn’t exactly crosshair-thin, with Illinois suffering nearly 200 more annually per/100K. Washington, D.C., which has gun ownership laws nearly as restrictive as the Third Reich, would be a runaway No. 1 if it was a State, with nearly double the rate of any State. NJ-S2264 would set about correcting that extraordinarily bad math.
Some might suggest that S2264 is a poor piece of politics. It adds unnecessary and illegal fees, layers of bureaucracy and will come nowhere near undoing the injustice current laws visit upon the law-abiding citizens of New Jersey.
But this is New Jersey — the reputed final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa. And in the last year, citizens have chosen Chris Christie as their Governor and now a Democrat State Senator is taking a chisel to the liberal wall around the Garden State.
Let’s look on the bright side and call S2264 a baby step in the right direction.