Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Panel Targets Conceal Carry Law

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Panel Targets Conceal Carry Law

Article excerpt

A special commission created by Governor Christie to study gun- control laws in New Jersey has recommended several small changes that could enable more state residents to carry concealed firearms and speed up the permitting process for some people by holding local police accountable for delays.

Christie, who in his run for the Republican presidential nomination has assured conservatives that he strongly supports gun rights, appointed the Firearm Permitting and Purchase Study Commission in the days before he joined the race in June. The group released a report Monday finding that across the state, individual towns are applying the law "unevenly" when people request permits to purchase firearms or to carry concealed handguns.

The commission cited examples of people who faced delays in getting permits that were "well beyond what is permitted under the law," saying it received "scores" of complaints forwarded by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, a gun rights group.

Scott L. Bach, executive director of the association, said in a statement: "New Jersey is notorious for its medieval treatment of gun owners and contempt for the Second Amendment, and the commission's recommendations would address some of the most blatant abuses."

Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence, called the report politically motivated and an attempt to bolster Christie's presidential campaign. "This is a jury-rigged attempt to boost his polling among pro-gun forces in New Hampshire," Miller said.

The panel's members -- Adam Heck, a staff attorney for Christie when he was appointed; Eric Jaso, who worked under Christie at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark; and Erik Lillquist, a professor at Christie's alma mater, Seton Hall University Law School -- concluded that several actions "could be taken to improve conditions in New Jersey that prevent law-abiding citizens from exercising a fundamental right. This is especially important when those citizens are or may be the targets of domestic violence and other criminal acts." New Jersey's gun ownership laws are among the most restrictive in the country.

They recommended that the state attorney general issue a directive to local police to establish "a uniform set of criteria" for processing firearms applications, and that the waiting time for such applications be published for each jurisdiction. They also said the courts should "be urged to expedite its consideration of carry permit applications" for domestic violence victims, and suggested changes in regulations that could open the door for more carry permits to be granted.

Christie cited the murder of a South Jersey woman named Carol Bowne, who was fatally stabbed by an ex-boyfriend on her driveway while she waited for a handgun permit to be processed. "The terrible tragedy involving Berlin resident Carol Bowne this past summer, and far too many instances of gun owners facing severe criminal penalties when they have no intent to violate the law, compelled the need to take a fresh look at whether our laws and rules around gun ownership are working," the governor said Monday. …

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