The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the NRA's voice in New Jersey, announced a big win for hunters and gun owners today. In an email blast earlier today, the ANJRPC issued the following statement:
YOUR VOICE HEARD
A4179 & A4180 PULLED
FROM MONDAY COMMITTEE AGENDA!
After several days of gun owner outcry and subsequent dialogue with the bill sponsor, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D28) has graciously agreed to hold A4179/A4180 to allow for continued discussion to address gun owner concerns.
We also appreciate the assistance of Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee Chairman Daniel Benson (D14) in fostering an environment that will allow meaningful consideration of gun owner concerns.
And thank YOU for speaking out and making gun owner voices heard.
Please spread the word and make sure our fellow defenders of the Second Amendment know there will be no hearing on these bills on Monday, Dec 5.
Further updates will follow as the situation develops.
The New Jersey Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee had been scheduled to hear A4179 and A4180 -- "suicide prevention" bills which the ANJRPC noted "have little actual impact on suicide but represent a massive attack on every shooting range in the state and every person who uses them." The ANJRPC went on...
"There isn't a single gun owner, shooting range, gun club, instructor, hunter education student, or person trying the shooting sports for the first time who would not be impacted by these bills as presently written. The legislation as written also impacts range work by active and retired law enforcement, military members, and various agency professionals.
The bills as presently written would require the owner or operator of every range and gun club to verify that every range user has an FID card, NJ carry permit, or pistol purchase permit, along with government-issued photo ID, every time that person uses the range. That is an impossible burden for most ranges to meet - most ranges are unstaffed or staffed sporadically by volunteers. Few ranges have staff during all operating hours. NO SHOOTING ACTIVITY COULD OCCUR ON ANY RANGE THAT IS NOT STAFFED TO VERIFY CREDENTIALS.
The bills as presently written would also prevent you from using your own firearms on a range unless the range first verifies your credentials, every time you use the range, and bans all temporary transfer on a range unless the range verifies the credentials of both the transferor and transferee. THIS IMPACTS A HUGE SWATH OF SECOND AMENDMENT ACTIVITY, INCLUDING TRAINING, COMPETITION, TARGET PRACTICE, OPEN HOUSES, RANGE GUESTS, HUNTER EDUCATION, WOMEN'S EVENTS, ETC. (see below for detailed examples).
The bills, sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D28), are extremely overbroad and wide-ranging in their effect. Instead of narrowly addressing a specific limited problem, the bills cast an enormous net over every range in the state and every person that uses them, and would dramatically disrupt traditional Second Amendment activity that has occurred for decades without incident. Many ranges would be forced to close, and those able to stay open would be severely burdened and disrupted...
Ultimately, A4179 and A4180 are based on a deeply flawed premise. Possession of a firearms ID card, pistol purchase permit, or carry permit is not an assurance that someone is not depressed or will not become depressed in the future. Nor would the legislation prevent those intent on committing suicide from doing so.
Possession of a firearms credential is merely an indication of prior history, not present mental state. Mental health professionals opine that the most effective way to reduce suicide risk is to recognize warning signs based on present mental state, yet the legislation does not in any way address present mental state, nor does it pose solutions targeted to the specific problem it seeks to address. As written, all the legislation does is harm ranges and gun clubs, and interfere with the exercise of Second Amendment rights in New Jersey.
Here are just a few examples of how this legislation, as currently written, would harm the entire Second Amendment community in New Jersey:
*"No papers, no target practice." Every gun owner would be required to present NJ firearms credentials to the owner or operator of a range before being allowed to use their own firearms on that range, every time they use the range. What if you're from out of state? Sorry. What if the club doesn't have staff to check credentials? Too bad.
* No shooting activities on unstaffed ranges (most gun clubs and ranges are not staffed). Shooting activity could only occur where staff exists to check credentials. Unstaffed ranges would lose members (because members wouldn't be allowed to shoot there), many clubs would be forced to close.
* Staffed ranges forced to become the "FID police." Of the few ranges with staff, most are non-profit clubs with occasional volunteer staff who cannot be conscripted into becoming full-time agents of the state to verify credentials. The few ranges that do have paid staff would be burdened into hiring additional personnel to meet the state's demands. Ranges that cannot afford to check credentials during all hours of operation would lose members and some would be forced to close.
* No more temporary transfer at ranges unless both parties have NJ credentials and display those credentials to the range owner / operator (regardless of whether the range is staffed or unstaffed - same concerns as above). New Jersey's longstanding law regarding temporary transfer of firearms on ranges has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to try many different shooting sports, without incident, before deciding whether to become a firearms owner. The legislation would shut down all of these lawful activities, including the ones discussed below.
* "You have to become a gun owner before you decide whether you want to become a gun owner." FIREARMS TRAINING, OPEN HOUSES, RANGE GUESTS, WOMENS' EVENTS, SPECIAL PROGRAMS, etc. would be shut down and unavailable to anyone without a firearms credential. Most people considering firearms ownership try it first, before obtaining credentials to purchase firearms. All of this activity would be stopped, and would negatively impact many ranges and clubs in the legislation as currently written. "Sorry, you can't even try target practice until the state has investigated you."
* Domestic Violence victims would be prevented from training with firearms while awaiting issuance of their firearm credentials, so they are proficient enough to protect themselves when their credentials are finally issued (in some jurisdictions, applicants wait over a year, in violation of state law). A domestic violence victim who does not yet have their firearms credentials should not be prevented from becoming trained and proficient in the meanwhile.
*Hunter education impeded. NJ hunter education firearms safety classes require live fire range exercises, and the State makes firearms available to participants who don't have their own firearms. The legislation would prevent this activity unless the student and teacher already have credentials, which is not always the case. Ironically, this legislation interferes with hunter safety training, and the revenue it generates for the state.
* Unsafe: Hunters prevented from sighting in or test-firing their firearms. Many out-of-state hunters sight-in their firearms or do test-firing at unstaffed wildlife management area ranges maintained by New Jersey. Those without NJ firearms credentials would be forbidden from doing so. But even hunters with NJ credentials (resident or not) would also be forbidden, since their credentials could not be displayed to the range owner / operator of an unstaffed wildlife management area range.
* Competitions impacted. Shooting is an Olympic sport, and NJ competitors have produced Olympic medals. Competitors coming into NJ would be forbidden from using their own firearms, or from using fellow competitors' firearms, unless they have NJ credentials (most do not). Competitions would be severely impacted.
* Prevents non-residents from participating in popular, lawful NJ shooting sports and activities unless they have NJ credentials (most do not). Cuts off significant revenue and commerce coming into NJ, from which the state benefits. Dramatically harms ranges throughout the state.
* Military, Police & Agency range activities. As presently written, the legislation prevents anyone without an FID card, pistol purchase permit, or handgun carry permit from using their own firearms, or temporary transfer of others' firearms, on ranges. Active law enforcement in New Jersey rarely have these credentials, and many retired members of law enforcement do not obtain these credentials. Additionally, a whole host of military, agency, and other personnel are specifically exempted under NJ law from needing firearms credentials in the first place, and those personnel would also be impacted.
* Overwhelms an already overburdened and dysfunctional permitting system. The legislation could result in a deluge of applications for FID cards or other credentials. ANJRPC's Permitting Strike Force has already painstakingly documented permitting abuses rampant throughout New Jersey's 565 municipalities. Many applicants have waited more than a year to receive permits that are required by law to be granted or denied within 30 days. The legislation could stimulate tens of thousands of new applications, which would overwhelm the existing dysfunctional system and slow it even further, significantly burdening Second Amendment rights.
* Toy guns included. Believe it or not, the use of BB guns and airguns would also be prohibited at shooting ranges in the absence of firearms credentials. That's because New Jersey law treats them as "firearms" even though they are considered toys everywhere else, and the legislation fails to exempt them from its overreach. Absurd!
* Youth exempted, but not adults??? Bizarrely, A4179 preserves specific exemptions for target practice, instruction and training by minors who don't have credentials, yet provides no similar exemptions for adults. Do legislators actually believe that adults pose a suicide risk, yet minors do not?"
Hats off to the ANJRPC, NRA, and 2AS for their great work in getting these bills pulled from consideration on Monday. But we must remain vigilant, so stay tuned...