New Jersey Senate President signals concealed carry reform is on the way

The state Capitol building in Trenton, New Jersey. (Evelyn Tu for WHYY)

The state Capitol building in Trenton, New Jersey. (Evelyn Tu for WHYY)

New Jersey Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Union) has signaled state lawmakers will soon move to enact gun reform in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling on concealed carry.

The highest court in the nation struck down a more than century-old statute in New York prohibiting concealed carry, the practice of carrying a hidden firearm in public.

New Jersey has similar laws banning concealed carry except in special cases.

“You’ll probably see something in terms of legislation soon, that will address the recent Supreme Court decision that may have thrown our laws into a little bit of disarray,” Scutari told reporters following a Senate voting session on Thursday.

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“We’d like to meet [the Supreme Court’s decision] with some specific legislation that we believe would meet constitutional muster, but would also safeguard our citizens, specifically, talking about sensitive areas, talking about whether it should be concealed or open carry, what types of things would be required in order to do that, but it’s, it’s something that needs to be addressed in a larger scale, not just a one-off kind of thing,” Scutari said.

Gov. Phil Murphy addressed the issue Tuesday on his monthly call-in show “Ask Governor Murphy,” hosted by WHYY and other tri-state NPR affiliates, WBGO and WNYC.

“This is one I can’t do by executive order. I need legislation,” Murphy told “Ask Governor Murphy” host Nancy Solomon. “There will be certain off-limit zones…including…private property unless you the homeowner explicitly say otherwise. But churches, places of entertainment, soft targets, we need that now, based on the actions of this very right-wing U.S. Supreme Court”

The Garden State already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and a 2021 NJ.com data report found that it also ranks low among U.S. states for gun deaths per capita.

The New Jersey Senate also passed a bill on Thursday that allows the state’s newly enacted child tax credit to go into effect this year, instead of in 2023.

In June, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the tax credit into law, providing New Jerseyans a refundable income tax credit for up to $500 per child. It was a major component of the Democratic-leaning legislature’s fiscal year 2023 budget (which took effect on July 1).

However, a mistake in the bill would have prevented people from claiming the tax credit on income earned in 2022.

Thursday’s vote was intended to fix the error.

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“The issue on when the child tax credit should take effect was something that came up on the final floor vote as lawmakers were voting on the budget. So it was definitely a mistake. And, unfortunately, a consequence of the rushed nature of New Jersey’s budget process,” said Louis Di’Paulo, communications director of the New Jersey Policy Perspective.

The General Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill Monday.

Senator Ed Durr (R-Gloucester) greets newly sworn-in Senator Renee Burgess at a Senate voting session on Sept 29. Burgess, a former councilwoman and school board member, became Irvington’s first Senator. (Tennyson Donyéa / WHYY)

Thursday, New Jersey Senators also welcomed a new member into their ranks, as Sen. Renee Burgess was officially sworn in to replace retired Essex County Sen. Ron Rice in the 28th Legislative District.

Burgess is the first state Senator from Irvington.

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