Federal concealed carry bill concerning to some NJ towns

“We have an issue here, with guns in New Jersey,” said Alan Sohn, a member of the Teaneck township council.

Sohn lives in Teaneck and says New Jersey’s unique position as the nation’s most densely-populated state makes it just too dangerous for visitors with out-of-state gun permits to carry their weapons here. He says if a bad guy threatens a crowd, here’s what could happen, for example.

“You have people pulling out guns and all you need is one person to pull a trigger, and then you have a gunfight at the OK Corral,” he said.

“Gun rights activists need to understand that New Jersey needs to legislate what’s happening here,” said the mayor of Teaneck, Mohammed Hameeduddin.

Hameeduddin says that’s why Teaneck’s Township Council joined several others to pass resolutions condemning new federal legislation, called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. It would force states with strict gun laws, like New Jersey, to legally honor gun carry permits issued by every other state, even those with far lower standards or even no permit requirements at all.

“I’m not against concealed carry. I think that the regulations we have at a state level is what should be prevailing,” said the mayor.

The bill passed the House 231-to-98, largely along party lines, and includes a provision to update the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. Gun for Hire range owner Anthony Colandro says it’s only fair.

“All it would allow us to do is carry a gun concealed as a normal, law abiding citizen. I can carry in Pennsylvania, I can carry in New Hampshire, I can can carry in 44 states with a non-resident carry permit. The other states allow me to do that,” said Colandro.

Colandro says he’s not opposed to requiring stricter national background checks, including mental health background checks.

“One hundred percent in agreement for them. I’m not even opposed and I’m going to get in trouble for this, I’m not even opposed to a training requirement to carry a gun,” he said.

It’s a legal dilemma. Despite her Pennsylvania handgun permit, Shaneen Allen was arrested, convicted and then pardoned by Gov. Christie. But as the bill heads to the Senate, it will meet opposition.

“I do not believe it makes us safer. I don’t believe that a police officer that walks up to a car with an out-of-state plate, and now has to worry about, does that individual have a gun on them? I think it’s incredible that my Republican colleagues for the better part of 25 years between the House and the Senate hear about states’ rights … that now our states’ rights should be violated because they want a national concealed carry,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

“The notion that we would have to be subjected to the lowest common denominator, which is what this would do to New Jersey, is completely reprehensible. So, I will lend my voice and energy morning, noon and night to the senators and other reps in Washington to push back on that,” said Governor-elect Phil Murphy.

Proponents expect the bill will be debated soon in the Senate despite a packed legislative agenda.

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