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New Jersey Lawmakers Rewrite Carrying Guns Law After Ruling

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TRENTON, NJ (AP) — New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday unveiled new legislation to rewrite the state’s gun-carrying laws after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling broadening rights firearms.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate Speaker Nicholas Scutari, flanked by other lawmakers and Moms Demand Action supporters in red t-shirts, said the new measure will prevent licensees from transport to schools, polling stations, bars, restaurants, theaters, sports arenas, airports, casinos and daycares.

It also establishes a new requirement that licensees carry insurance to protect against accidental discharges, coverage that Scutari says is already available in insurance markets. The bill increases if the amount allows, although the exact amount is not immediately clear. The funds will be used to compensate victims of crime under the law.

The measure also requires licensees to complete firearms safety training and would introduce a vetting process that requires non-family references to vouch for applicants. This would disqualify applicants with previous violations of restraining orders and other “temperament character” issues, although it was not immediately clear how those issues would be defined.

Lawmakers said they have looked into New York’s recent porting law, though a federal court recently ruled parts of the law unconstitutional.

“I own guns. I often appreciate my guns, but I appreciated the right to have those guns and use them responsibly,” said Joe Danielsen, Democratic Assemblyman and sponsor of the bill. “This bill does not provide for any conflict.”

Coughlin said the bill attempts to prevent gun tragedies while respecting the Supreme Court’s ruling. Scutari echoed that idea, saying the measure struck a balance that allows “the carrying of firearms permitted by the Constitution, but not anywhere you want.”

The state’s National Rifle Association affiliate said in a statement that New Jersey’s proposal was too similar to New York’s.

“These attacks by New Jersey lawmakers are a big middle finger to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Scott Bach, director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. “We look forward to reversing these measures in court and forcing the state to pay our legal costs.”

The High Court ruling struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a special need to carry a firearm to publicly obtain a license to carry a firearm in a concealed manner. New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all had similar laws.

New Jersey lawmakers had acknowledged after the ruling that the state would likely need to update its laws. Thursday’s announcement was a first step in that direction. The bills are expected to be voted on in the Assembly later this month. A timeline in the Senate is unclear, Scutari said.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy worked with lawmakers on drafting the legislation and looks forward to signing the bill into law, spokeswoman Alyana Alfaro said in an emailed statement.

“By working together, we can take common sense steps to protect the public from gun violence,” she said.

Murphy has been a leading proponent of tougher gun laws and has signed a number of restrictions on gun rights, including legislation authorizing the state attorney general to use the laws. on public nuisance to sue arms manufacturers.