Like several other Democrat-run states in our union, New Jersey has become known for having rather strict gun control laws that tend to punish the law-abiding citizens more than the criminals who use guns to commit their crimes.
New Jersey Advance Media reported June 13 that Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy had signed into law six tough gun control measures, part of his stated effort to make the state one of the harshest in terms of gun control.
Those measures included a ban on magazines that held more than 10 rounds of ammunition, a ban on armor-piercing ammunition, required background checks on all private sales of firearms and the requirement of a “justifiable need” in order to obtain a concealed carry permit.
He also signed into law firearm restraining orders that would see guns seized and a year-long ban on firearm purchases imposed on gun owners if family members or mental health officials deem an individual to be a threat to themselves or others.
But those measures apparently were not enough to undermine the Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms in Murphy’s view, as he has now proposed imposing a number of financial barriers on the process of buying or selling firearms in the state.
NJ Advance Media reported separately that Murphy has proposed, as part of budgetary discussions, to significantly hike the fees that must be paid for a variety of permits necessary to conduct firearms-related business in the state.
Those fee hikes were estimated to bring in at least an additional $1.4 million in revenue for the state if the proposal can be transformed into law, though it is noteworthy that no state legislators have championed the idea yet.
Murphy’s plan would increase the cost of a handgun purchase permit from a mere $2 to $50, increase the cost of a firearm owners identification card from $5 to $100, and hike the fee to obtain a concealed carry permit from $50 to $400.
Gun dealers and manufacturers are also hit by Murphy’s proposal as well, as a state license for retail gun dealers would increase from $50 to $500, and a manufacturers license would rise from $150 to $1,500.
Guns.com reported as a frame of reference that neighboring states like Delaware and Pennsylvania only charge $65 and $20, respectively, for carry permits, as compared to the proposed amount of $400 in New Jersey.
Furthermore, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives only charges $200 for a dealer’s license and $150 for a manufacturer’s license — far less than the $500 and $1,500 fees suggested by Gov. Murphy.
This proposed move by Murphy, just like the gun control measures signed into law weeks ago, will be met by legal challenges from those who stand up for the rights of gun owners and those engaged in the firearms industry, like Scott Bach, Director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.
His group has already filed a lawsuit against the new magazine capacity limit, and Bach told NJ.com that these proposed fee hikes “won’t survive a court challenge.”
Bach described the massive proposed increase in fees as “intended to punish law-abiding gun owners for the acts of criminals and madmen and discourage the exercise of Second Amendment rights.” He added, “It also has the unintended consequence of denying that basic civil right to lower-income populations.”
Bach is correct that these fees are aimed squarely at those who are law-abiding — criminals generally don’t pay fees or obtain the proper licenses to get their illicit firearms — but he is probably being charitable when he suggested the denial of a basic civil right to low-income individuals was an “unintended consequence.”
There is nothing unintentional about Murphy’s plan to price the ownership of firearms out of reach for a significant portion of his state’s population — many of whom are the most vulnerable and in need of a gun to protect themselves and their families from the rampant, and still well-armed, criminal element.
Imposition of these dramatically higher taxes on gun ownership must be stopped, and it must be made clear that taxes on constitutional rights are unacceptable in any form.
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