CRESSKILL, N.J. -- North Jersey's senior state senator has introduced a bill that would allow him and his fellow lawmakers -- as well as state and municipal judges -- to carry concealed handguns, provided they complete at least eight hours of firearm safety training.
“Judges and legislators face a greater risk of falling victim to violent attacks, simply because of their easily identifiable position in public life,” said state Sen. Gerald Cardinale of Cresskill (R-Bergen, Passaic).
“This measure will ensure that public servants have the means to protect themselves from those who might violently disagree with their viewpoints or decisions," said Cardinale, a dentist by trade and a state legislator the past 34 years. "A judge should feel safe returning home each night no matter how they ruled or what they ruled on that day.”
Cardinale cited the 2011 shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords at a local supermarket, among other attacks. More recently, he noted, a Texas judge was wounded in a shooting outside of her home in Austin.
In order to obtain a permit to carry a handgun under current New Jersey law, an applicant must show a “justifiable need” for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks. They also must show that the danger to their life cannot be avoided by any means other than to carry a handgun.
Under his bill, legislators and judges would be exempt from the “justifiable need” requirement. Instead, they would only have to show that they've completed at least eight hours of firearm safety training and do not have any disabilities that would exclude them under current law.
“The state’s current laws prevent only responsible citizens from having the ability to arm themselves for self-protection,” Cardinale said. “Our laws do not protect us -- they merely give criminals an advantage."
"We need to have sensible regulations concerning firearms, aimed at protecting us," he said, "rather than ideological laws that only create an environment that emboldens criminals, terrorists and others with evil intent.
“I believe that if vulnerable public officials do not have to fear violent reprisals related to their duties, they will be able to better carry out their mission to serve the people of New Jersey. Our dedicated public servants are some of our greatest resources, and we cannot afford to lose any to an assassin’s bullet.”
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