Top N.J. Dems push back on Christie plan to loosen gun regulation

New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg

New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg

Two of the top Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature have introduced legislation to block the Christie administration’s attempt to change the rules for getting a permit to carry a handgun.

Current law requires proof of a specific threat to an applicant’s life that warrants carrying a gun in public.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said expanding the definition of a justifiable need would significantly loosen New Jersey’s strict gun laws.

“If these regulations were adopted, it would allow every cab driver, pizza delivery driver, Uber driver, and anyone else living or working in a high-crime neighborhood to qualify for a firearm permit,” said Weinberg, D-Bergen.

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald called the proposed change an overreach.

“A mass arming of our society is not, in my opinion, the right way to fix this problem,” said Greenwald, D-Camden. “The proposed regulation to allow a serious threat to be a justifiable need to receive a carry permit is reckless.”

Jane Chivas, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, said she fears  that loosening the rules will lead to more gun violence.

“Increasing access to weapons is not going to save lives of victims of domestic violence,” she  said. “It will increase the risk of lethality in every domestic violence incident.”

Weinberg and Lou Greenwald said the administration’s proposed rules are inconsistent with legislative intent to limit firearms access and protect communities.

The lawmakers also are working on a bill to clarify the time limits for police departments to determine whether to grant a carry permit. They said that process sometimes takes too long.

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