Gov. Phil Murphy showed his progressive anti-gun credentials in 2019 by proposing 10 new gun-control laws.
Since New Jersey already had some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation, the challenge seemed to be coming up with new ones he could put his name to. Getting his Democratic Legislature to enact them was the easy part.
The most consequential of them was the further ratcheting down of how many bullets may be in a gun’s magazine — from the previous 15 to just 10.
Another fixed an overreaching gun law that required all handguns sold in the state to be smart guns — usable only by their owners — should such guns ever become available. That signaled gun manufacturers that if they developed a smart gun, they couldn’t sell their many more popular models, with predictable results. So a new law just required dealers to offer at least one smart gun model if they became available.
The rest of Murphy’s first batch of gun laws seemed less effective or more redundant.
Now the governor, just in time for his reelection campaign, has come up with a dozen more bills and executive orders to further restrict the legal ownership and use of guns that already is often nearly impossible in New Jersey.
A major one would increase the age to legally purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. Young adults from New Jersey could still have and use their weapons in the armed services, just not have any back home.
A bill would require that each bullet is individually marked so it may be traced if it is recovered (presumably intact).
Another bill would ban 50-caliber weapons, no doubt aimed at the big military-grade rifles often used by snipers. It wasn’t clear whether the far more common and far less accurate historic-style muzzleloaders of the same caliber would be exempted.
There are also a bunch of actions and postures unlikely to produce meaningful results, such as hosting a gun safety summit among governors, convening a gun safety commission and spending $10 million on gun violence intervention programs.
We suspect that most of New Jersey’s gun violence — half of which takes place in just five cities — is done with guns that are illegal or illegally owned. Murphy’s many shots at gun control haven’t seemed to hit that mark yet.
Soon after Murphy’s anti-gun rally in Newark, a possibility arose that might actually deter some criminal gun violence.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to New York’s severe limits on the right to carry a concealed weapon in public. New Jersey is among seven other states that also largely prevent citizens from carrying guns for their protection.
In the rest of the country, gun owners have little trouble legally carrying their weapons when they go out. If the court limits the ability of states to deny permits to carry a concealed weapon, the effect might outweigh what Murphy and his advisers have come up with.