• 'Serious threats' to applicant's life now a consideration
  • Domestic-violence victim slain while paperwork was delayed

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration ordered police departments not to delay handgun-permit applications and opened the process to individuals in fear for their lives.

Guidelines issued by acting Attorney General Robert Lougy, a Christie appointee, are designed to prevent local law enforcement from unnecessary delays, according to a news release from Christie’s office.

New Jersey has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the U.S. Christie, a second-term Republican, said while campaigning unsuccessfully for president last year that he was open to relaxing the laws, which have been criticized by members of his party.

Christie convened a panel to examine permitting last year after Camden County resident Carol Bowne was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, against whom she had a restraining order. The attack occurred while Bowne’s firearm application was pending beyond the 30-day processing deadline.

Applicants now may cite “serious threats” as a justifiable need to carry a weapon.

Second Amendment

Christie called the Bowne case an example “of a permitting system that had failed and needed to be re-examined and fixed.” The new rules, he said, also protected Second Amendment rights.

Lougy directed licensing authorities to “simply follow the law by processing permit applications in a timely fashion,” according to the release.

The rules also clarified where an individual may possess an unloaded, securely stored firearm. Owners don’t need a carry permit, for instance, while traveling between home and business, or to shooting ranges and hunting grounds. Now, they won’t be penalized if they stop during their travels for necessary errands, such as buying food or fuel, using a restroom or avoiding a traffic jam.

“I have seen far too many instances in my time as governor of otherwise lawful gun owners facing severe criminal penalties when they have no intent to violate the law in the routine transport of their lawfully owned firearms,” Christie said.

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