The government shutdown clock continues to tick away. The budget sent to Gov. Phil Murphy lacks a lot of the tax increases he wants, and for once the Democrats in the legislature finally are talking about cutting spending rather than raising taxes. This should be a good thing.

Now a very sympathetic figure from out of state has jumped into our budget fray. And they couldn't be more wrong. The parent of one of the kids killed in the Parkland FL school shooting has ripped into Senate President Steve Sweeney on Twitter. Why? Because Sweeney's not supporting Murphy's push to hike fees for buying and selling guns in the state.

Fred Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime at Stoneman Douglas High School and jumped all over Sweeney for being in opposition to the fee increase. He calls for shame on Sweeney and says the proposed increases were "very reasonable."

It's hard to tell someone who's lost their daughter that they're wrong. But Mr. Guttenberg, with all due respect, you're wrong. Yes, it's true these fees associated with buying and selling firearms haven't been raised in half a century. But when you talk about a handgun purchase permit going from $2 to $50, a firearms i.d. card going from $5 to $100, retail gun dealer licenses from $50 to $500, wholesaler/manufacturer licenses from $150 to $1,500, and handgun carry permits from $50 to $400 you have to realize this proposal hikes these fees way beyond the inflation rate. (I almost didn't include that last example of carry permits since it's virtually impossible to get one in this restrictive state.)

What Mr. Guttenberg may not know is how expensive it is to live in this overtaxed, overburdened state to begin with. We have natives leaving in droves because they simply can no longer afford Trenton's shenanigans. So when he claims these increases are very reasonable he's very wrong. And keep in mind the only people who pay these fees are law-abiding gun owners. Thugs on the streets with guns don't pay any fees. It's the ones who you need to worry about the least who will pay in some cases double to protect their families. He can certainly make the argument that in the case of Parkland FL this gun was legally purchased. He's right. But there were so many red flags that were missed by authorities and the gun laws in Florida are so much weaker than we have here in New Jersey that legal gun owners here ought not be penalized for Florida's mistakes.

Gun owners love their children too. It may be the reason they own one. At a time when we're driving more people away with taxes and fees, we shouldn't carry out ten fold and twenty fold increases just for the sake of looking good.

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