Gun owners and sellers say proposed fee and tax hikes by Gov. Phil Murphy could stymie their ability to earn a living.

"It makes zero sense whatsoever," said Benny Cardona, a part-time security officer in Newark and Paterson.

Only people who demonstrate a justifiable need for a handgun can legally obtain one in New Jersey. Before their actual purchase of a handgun, prospective buyers currently face a tab of a bit over $50, including permits, identification and a background check, according to numbers provided by the Governor's Office.

That grand total, under the Administration's latest proposal, would shoot up to just under $600.

Cardona said people in his field, or interested in his field, would easily be turned off by the exorbitant upfront fees necessary to get their hands on a firearm and actually perform the job.

"You're going to kill these guys," Cardona said about the proposed fees. "Some of these places are only paying them $15 an hour, $17 an hour."

And the need for additional security may not too far ahead in the future, Cardona said. If New Jersey legalizes recreation marijuana, he said, "someone needs to protect those assets."

Many firearm fees have not risen since 1966, the Governor's Office noted.

"These fees will support the state's continued investment in our State Troopers and their operational needs," Murphy said in the budget proposal.

The budget also calls for the implementation of excise taxes on firearms and ammunition — 10 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, on top of sales tax already charged to gun buyers.

And the annual fee for a retail firearms dealer license would jump from $50 to $500.

Guns & Roses in Toms River
Guns & Roses in Toms River

"In this trade, profit margins are pretty much razor thin, so what that's going to do is it's just going to push it back, then, on the end consumer," said Joe Hawk, owner of Guns & Roses in Toms River.

Most of his customers, Hawk said, are middle class citizens who are "just basically making it" financially. Added taxes, he said, would likely nudge gun owners to purchase the necessities beyond New Jersey's borders.

"All this is going to do is just decrease sales, decrease revenue. It's just going to make the market smaller," Hawk said.

The state anticipates the updated fees and added taxes, plus an increased fee on bear hunting, would bring in an estimated $9 million in additional revenue.

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