Why It Matters: Sportsmen and women have a crucial role as the primary funders of state-level conservation efforts in New Jersey and across the nation and are thus an important constituency that provides benefits for all recreators. For this reason and several more, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has a tenured history in fighting against restrictive legislation and supporting policies that expand access and opportunities for all sportsmen and women. In New Jersey, CSF has engaged in efforts to protect and advance our time-honored traditions – a move that is, and will always be, mission-centric to the Foundation.
- On October 20, the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee convened for a hearing on Assembly Bill 4769 (A. 4769) – legislation that poses to create barriers for prospective and existing firearm owners across the Garden State.
- Similar to other northeastern states, New Jersey passed a wave of anti-firearms bills this summer, and A. 4769 would ultimately add to this list by instituting unjust administrative and financial hurdles for the purchasing and carrying of firearms.
- The Committee ultimately voted 7-4 along party lines in favor of the bill.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted a letter of opposition to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will continue to advocate against this bill.
The New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee met on October 20 for a hearing on Assembly Bill 4769 (A. 4769). This bill is the latest iteration of restrictive legislation that poses to have detrimental effects on the Garden State’s sporting heritage and conservation funding. A. 4769 cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on October 17 by a 3-2 party-line vote and was swiftly sent for a hearing before the Assembly Appropriations Committee, wherein it also passed on a party-line vote of 7-4. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation opposed A. 4769 through written testimony.
There are a myriad of concerning propositions raised in A. 4769. For one, it would prohibit the issuance of a handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card to “any person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare because the person is found to be lacking the essential character of temperament necessary to be entrusted with a firearm.” The bill then fails to elaborate on or define the “essential character” one must possess in order to exercise a Constitutional right, posing to prevent future sportsmen and women from owning necessary implements to participate in our time-honored traditions. Additionally, the application for permits to purchase a handgun and for firearms purchaser identification cards jumps from $2 to $25, citing inflation as the reasoning. Should someone want a permit to carry a handgun, there is a new $200 application fee that is valid for only two years. A. 4769 also raises an issue that’s currently involved in a legal battle in New York, going on to prohibit firearms in “sensitive places” and including “parks and other recreation spaces” within its definition.
In its letter of opposition, CSF highlighted the important role that New Jersey’s sportsmen and women play, especially recreational shooters, through the American System of Conservation Funding. This constituency is the backbone of the funding structure for conservation efforts that benefit wildlife and their habitat throughout the state, as well as the citizenry at large. By instituting unjust administrative and financial hurdles for the purchasing and carrying of firearms, along with restricting where they may be carried, A. 4769 will undoubtedly curtail sales and therefore deflect much-needed conservation dollars away from the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
CSF will remain engaged on this topic and will provide updates as they are made available.
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?