Gov. Christie's administration announced measures Friday to ease some New Jersey state gun restrictions, including an expansion of the standard for getting a permit to carry a gun.
The Republican governor, who previously endorsed loosening the state's gun laws, said in a statement Friday that the changes would "deliver relief and assurance to New Jerseyans exercising their Second Amendment rights."
The changes, which follow recommendations issued by a study commission Christie formed last year, include a regulatory amendment that adds "serious threats" to the circumstances considered a special danger to a person's life. This expands the standard of "justifiable need" that applicants have to meet to get a permit to carry a gun in New Jersey.
The amendment also says that a permit to carry can be issued based on danger to the applicant's life that cannot be avoided by other "reasonable" means rather than by "any" means.
Scott L. Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, described the change to the carry permit standard as a "modest incremental improvement" to an "abomination."
He called the changes "historic executive actions to make progress on basic issues that have plagued New Jersey's one million law-abiding gun owners for decades."
The Attorney General's Office also issued guidance to law enforcement and prosecutors on permissible transportation of guns. Currently, people can transport a gun without a license to carry while traveling to and from their home and business, hunting, shooting ranges, and while moving between residences.
They are permitted "reasonably necessary" deviations - but those have not been clearly defined, according to the Attorney General's Office.
The office listed a number of permissible stops, including "collecting and discharging passengers; purchasing fuel, food and beverages, medication, or other needed supplies; using a restroom; contending with an emergency situation; or driving around a traffic jam."
The office also issued a directive to licensing authorities, requiring them to submit annual data on the number of ID cards and handgun purchase permit applications filed and processed per month, and how long it took to process the applications. Gun-permit applicants had complained about delays and discrepancies in the permit process.
Arguing that the state's permitting system had "failed," Christie cited the death last year of Carol Bowne, 39, of Berlin Township, who was stabbed in her driveway by an ex-boyfriend less than two months after filing an application for a gun permit that was delayed, according to Christie's office.
The governor, who faced skepticism from gun owners on the presidential campaign trail, signed an executive order the day before declaring his campaign last June that called for expedited processing of gun applications in cases of domestic violence.
The order also created the study commission that recommended changes to gun regulations.