Healy still sticking to his gun … legislation Court strikes down ‘one handgun a month’ ordinance

A state appellate court struck down on Monday Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s “one handgun a month” ordinance for Jersey City, but Healy is hoping state legislators will make it a state law instead.

The New Jersey Appellate Division issued a decision upholding a 2006 Hudson County Superior Court ruling that invalidated the Jersey City ordinance that would limit handgun purchases to one per month per individual.

The ordinance had been pushed by Healy and approved by the City Council in 2006.

But it met with opposition from various gun rights advocates, including longtime Jersey City gun dealer Frank Caso and the New Jersey chapter of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

On Monday, Healy held a press conference in front of City Hall to announce he is working with state legislators to make the ordinance a state law.

“Though we are disappointed that the Appellate Court did not agree with our position that Jersey City has the right to legislate in the interest of public safety, I am reaffirming my commitment to continue the fight to remove illegal handguns from the streets of Jersey City and the streets of all cities, suburbs, and rural areas in the state,” Healy said.

State Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Jersey City) announced at the conference that she will push the one-handgun bill she had already co-sponsored with Assemblyman Joe Vas (D-Perth Amboy). It passed in the Assembly in June but it has to be approved in the state Senate before it can be signed into law by Gov. Jon Corzine.

Quigley said, “We have been responsive to gun collectors, law enforcement, and gun dealers to ensure that they are exempt from the proposed legislation. It is unthinkable that we should be responsive to individuals who – without any justification – want to purchase large quantities of handguns at one time.”

She added, “This not only threatens the fabric of communities across New Jersey, but threatens everyday neighborhoods who become victimized by acts of senseless gun violence.”A tough battle

The legislation reflects one of Healy’s passions as an elected official – gun control. In particular, he is looking to stop the flow of illegal guns into Jersey City and throughout the state.

The local ordinance limited dealers and buyers in Jersey City to the sale or purchase of no more than one handgun every 30 days, except for members of law enforcement agencies and state or local correctional facilities.

But opponents argued that the law would infringe on their Second Amendment right to bear arms and that Healy’s objective would be better served if there were tougher sentences for those involved in shooting crimes.

In December of 2006, the ordinance was overturned by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli, who ruled that it subjected gun dealers and buyers in Jersey City to a different standard than their counterparts in the rest of the state.

The city appealed the decision in August 2007, only to have the New Jersey Appellate Division on Monday uphold the Superior Court’s ruling. One gun store left

Frank Caso has operated Caso’s Gun-A-Rama on Danforth Avenue in the southern part of Jersey City for more than 40 years.

Caso’s shop is the only gun store in town. There was a sporting goods store on Newark Avenue that sold guns, but it recently it closed.

When called to comment on Mayor Healy’s pursuing the “one handgun a month” ordinance as a state law, Caso stated, “I am sick and tired of talking about this issue.”

But the conversation didn’t stop there, as he slammed Healy for his legislation, which Caso sees as “picking on” legitimate gun dealers and responsible gun owners.

“What’s his problem … why is he continuing to go after the gun dealers who follow the law and is not going after the people who are responsible for the illegal guns?” Caso asked.

Caso added, “This state has some of the most stringent gun laws in this country, and it takes a lot of paperwork and time to get a gun and be licensed to carry one.”

Caso also said Healy should deal with other issues in the city instead. Comments on this story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com


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