TRENTON – New Jersey’s laws limiting the carrying of guns in public aren’t fully voided by Thursday’s Supreme Court decision striking down a similar New York law, but it’s now clear the system is vulnerable to a court challenge and will undergo changes.

New Jersey is among six states with laws similar to New York that restrict the ability to obtain concealed-carry permits, essentially saying police may issue such permits, rather than saying they shall issue them. People must prove a justifiable need, such as a specific past incident or current threat.

Are you now allowed to carry a gun in NJ?

Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin said his office “will continue to enforce our strict, commonsense gun laws that have become a model for states seeking to address the epidemic of gun violence.”

“New Jersey will continue to take all available steps to protect our residents from gun violence,” Platkin said. “Although the majority’s ruling impacts our century-old justifiable need requirement for carrying firearms, it does not change any other aspect of New Jersey’s public carry law. To be clear: Carrying a handgun without a permit is still illegal in this state, and all other requirements for obtaining a carry permit still apply.”

Platkin said the decision is “bad constitutional law and even worse for public safety” by making it harder to combat the proliferation of guns.

“Plain and simple, the majority’s decision disregards centuries of practice and recklessly enables violence,” he said.

How is NJ responding to the Supreme Court gun ruling?

Gov. Phil Murphy said that in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision, his administration has been reviewing its options regarding “who can carry concealed weapons and where they can carry them.”

“We are carefully reviewing the court’s language and will work to ensure that our gun safety laws are as strong as possible while remaining consistent with this tragic ruling,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the decision was “based on a deeply flawed constitutional methodology.”

“A right-wing majority on the United States Supreme Court has just said that states can no longer decide for ourselves how best to limit the proliferation of firearms in the public sphere,” he said. “Let there be no mistake – this dangerous decision will make America a less safe country. But let me be equally clear that, here in New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to protect our residents.”

Lawmakers eye changes to NJ gun laws

Assemblyman Raj Mukerji, D-Hudson, the chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that a new state law in response to the Supreme Court decision would likely be needed.

“If that law is stricken, then we probably have to come back and look at passing some form of carry in New Jersey,” Mukherji said.

Sen. Ed Durr, R-Gloucester, called for passage of his proposed bill, S1801, that eliminates the justifiable need requirement to obtain a permit to carry a handgun and requires 18 hours of training in the use, handling, and maintenance of handguns in order to obtain a handgun carry permit.

“New Jersey’s extremely restrictive concealed carry law is clearly unconstitutional for the same reason that New York’s law was just struck down by the Supreme Court,” Durr said.

“If legislative Democrats refuse to act proactively and responsibly as I have proposed to fix our unconstitutional concealed carry law, it’s clear they will be forced to by the courts,” he said.

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“We need to seriously look at reforming our firearm laws in accordance with the court’s decisions,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex. “We are going to be ever vigilant because we do not trust the governor nor his administration to start doing the right thing."

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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