When it comes to concealed carry, New Jersey is a "may issue" state, meaning local officials or the State Police have broad discretion in issuing a concealed carry permit to an applicant.
Applicants in New Jersey need to show a "justifiable need" for a carry permit, but Second Amendment advocates have said officials here interpret the phrase too narrowly.
In 2014, New Jersey resident John Drake unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in a challenge to the "justifiable need" standard, calling it irreconcilable with the Second Amendment.
Christie's committee called for amending New Jersey's concealed carry regulations "so individuals who can demonstrate an urgent necessity for self-protection by articulating serious threats, specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life that cannot be reasonably avoided by other means could obtain a carry permit."
The recommendations, made by the New Jersey Firearm Purchase and Permitting Study Commission, were derided by gun control advocates and gun rights supporters alike.
Gun control advocates in New Jersey have also strongly criticized the state's permitting process for those looking to own guns privately. Last month, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society released undercover videos showing what they described as widespread abuse by local police departments handling permit applications.
The governor's study commission similarly found the permitting process rife with delays and other unlawful obstacles put in front of individuals seeking gun permits.
Much attention has been paid recently to New Jersey's laws concerning the transportation of firearms, which are more restrictive than many other states. Over the course of 2015, Christie pardoned a total of six people charged with improperly storing or transporting firearms — including a New Hampshire Marine recruiter.
State law requires that a gun "shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel, shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances."
The report from Christie's study committee found the state needed "clearer guidance for the transport of lawfully-owned firearms."
Obama has also issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to begin researching smart gun technology.
Here in New Jersey, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) says she's been on "a more than 13-year odyssey" to push the technology, which advocates say reduces the risk of accidental gun discharges.
A 2002 law required New Jersey firearms dealers to sell only smart guns three years after the guns are available on the market. That law has proven controversial, and Second Amendment advocates claim the technology has not matured enough and the market should be allowed to develop free of government intervention.
A new version, also sponsored by Weinberg, would require retailers that sell guns to carry at least one smart gun in their inventory three years after they're vetted by state authorities and are on the market.
That measure is awaiting a vote in the Democratic-controlled Assembly before facing a possible veto from Christie, who has said the technology doesn't exist and the law should be repealed.
The 1994 federal "assault weapons" ban that expired in 2004 is also back on the table, with Democrats in Congress introducing a new version in December 2015.
In New Jersey, it never went away.
The federal version was modeled on laws passed in several states — including New Jersey, which has had laws on the books prohibiting the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons since the early 1990s. And then, as now, the law, championed by former Democratic Gov. Jim Florio, drew the ire of gun rights advocates, who rallied at the statehouse in opposition.
From the March 20, 1990 edition of the Star-Ledger:
Speaker after speaker told the overflow crowd that the bill goes far beyond threatening the property rights of citizens who own 100,000 to 300,000 assault firearms, according to State Police estimates. Rally leaders described the legislation as nothing less than a frontal assault on the right to bear arms, which one hailed as ''the spine of all freedom.''
But the man they most needed to impress, Gov. Jim Florio, was in Newark preaching about the need to ''make the state safer'' by ''taking the assault weapons out of circulation.''
''These are weapons of war and they do not belong in New Jersey,'' Florio said at a press conference on the steps of the old Essex County Courthouse.
While Christie's committee focused on making things easier for legal gun owners, many crimes across New Jersey are committed with illegally-obtained weapons — and many of those weapons come from out of state.
A 2014 NJ.com analysis of federal data found 80 percent of so-called crime guns recovered in New Jersey were traced to other states, mostly Pennsylvania and five southern states known for their loose requirements for gun purchasing: North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Gun rights advocates have pointed to this as evidence the state doesn't need any more gun laws. Proponents of gun control have said a mix of stricter state and federal laws are needed.
Among the initiatives announced by Obama this week is an expansion of background checks. The president said he would hire more examiners and seek to get states to provide more information, especially about people whose mental health issues could disqualify them from buying weapons.
"This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country," Obama said. Yet he said his executive action could "potentially save lives and spare families the pain of these extraordinary losses."
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