Gov. Chris Christie and his successor, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, don’t agree on much.

But one view they have in common, although not with the same fervor, is opposition to a bill passed by the House of Representatives and awaiting a vote in the Senate that would force New Jersey, and all states, to honor concealed-carry gun permits from other states.

Christie, who has been more receptive to gun-rights arguments than most political figures in New Jersey, said he has forever opposed the idea of concealed-carry reciprocity.

“Now I disagree with a lot of the laws, as you know, that we have on the books in the state right now. And I’d like to change some of them,” Christie said. “But I don’t think that Washington should change those for us.”

Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, said Christie has also said New Jersey should have shall-issue right-to-carry, which would eliminate much of the roadblock that makes it very difficult to get a gun-carry permit approved in the state.

“You know, I understand his objection based on a state’s rights theory. He’s also said he’s in favor of the ability of people to defend their lives with a firearm outside the home,” Bach said.

Murphy said in the campaign that the concealed-carry reciprocity bill in Congress would reduce gun-control efforts to that of the “lowest common denominator” among the states. Christie said he wouldn’t agree with such a characterization but that the change “undermines state laws.”

Murphy wants his attorney general to actively fight President Donald Trump’s administration in the courts and indicated when announcing he will nominate Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal for the position that guns could be among the skirmishes.

“As we prepare to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, we need an attorney general who will fight to protect our gun laws,” Murphy said.

Grewal said it was too early to commit to specific litigation priorities but that he would discuss the options with Murphy and other stakeholders in the months ahead.

Bach expects Murphy will be one of the more hostile governors toward gun rights.

“That’s unfortunate because New Jersey is already about as hostile as you can get toward law-abiding citizens,” Bach said. “The ironic thing is all the so-called solutions that he’s proposed wouldn’t affect gun criminals. They only affect people who follow the law.

“It’s one of the fallacies of gun control, that by passing laws that are targeted at hardware instead of criminal behavior, that somehow that’s going to affect gun crime, which it won’t,” he said. “The only people affected are good people who follow them. Criminals ignore these laws and always have.”

Bach said common ground is conceivable if Murphy – who has talked about mandatory safety training for gun owners and a new tax on gun sales – focuses instead on severely punishing people who commit violent crimes with guns.

“We don’t think targeting and demonizing hardware makes anybody safer because criminals ignore those laws. They laugh at those laws,” Bach said.

The House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 on Dec. 6 by a vote of 231-198.

The seven House Democrats from New Jersey voted against it, while the state’s Republican delegation was split. Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Frank LoBiondo and Tom MacArthur voted in favor, and Reps. Leonard Lance and Chris Smith were opposed.

The bill faces a shaky future in the Senate, where a similar effort fell three votes short in 2013.

The change would make concealed-carry permits universally recognized like driver’s licenses. Bach said the House version of the bill would help New Jersey residents both inside and outside of New Jersey, while the Senate version would only help them when they travel.

But either would compel the state to acknowledge a right to self-defense outside one’s home, Bach said.

“It’s high time for New Jersey to stop disparaging and denying that basic civil right, and if it takes federal legislation to force New Jersey to follow the Constitution, so be it,” Bach said.

 

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