December 20, 2021

Governor Murphy, Others Pushing Anti-Gun Package Moving Through NJ Legislature

Contact: Nick Lewis, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator


Why it Matters: New Jersey’s hunting and recreational shooting communities have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, New Jersey’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, resulting in a division that is approximately 80% funded by sportsmen and women. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from unnecessary and burdensome regulations would have a negative impact on conservation funding within the state. 

In the same year that New Jersey that saw the expiration of the state’s black bear hunt, Governor Murphy has pledged to push an anti-firearms package through the legislature before January 10. Governor Murphy saw quick movement less than two weeks after holding a press conference announcing his intentions to push this package through the legislature in hurried fashion. This bundle includes legislation that would require bullet serialization, the microstamping of firearms, banning calibers of .50 or greater, instituting tighter permit-to-purchase firearms laws, and creating a cause of action against companies involved in the manufacturing, distribution, sale, or marketing of firearms and ammunition.

There are practical impacts that firearms restrictions have on sportsmen and women, such as making it more difficult to procure a firearm for hunting or recreational shooting and limiting the method of take by banning certain calibers. A major problem with this legislative package is that there are implications well-beyond the practical effects on sportsmen and women. The American System of Conservation Funding, a unique “user pays – public benefits” structure, relies on license sales and tax revenue on sporting-related items, including firearms and ammunition. If this package were to pass, it would threaten the very funding that is responsible for conserving crucial habitats for fish and wildlife in the Garden State.

The anti-firearms package is headed to the Assembly floor after receiving favorable votes in their relevant committees last week. It is not clear if there will be enough time for Governor Murphy to push this through the legislature before the end of session, but what is clear is the opposition to this measure. New Jersey Legislative Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus Co-Chairs Assemblyman Parker Space and Senator Steve Oroho have both publicly opposed this package, as has the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.

The New Jersey Assembly is expected to vote on this anti-firearms package today, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will provide updates as they are made available. CSF will continue to work with in-state partners and oppose restrictive policies, such as these, within the Garden State.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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