As New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy continues his onslaught against legal gun owners and hunters, I went on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Wed., Apr. 24 to shed light on his latest attempts to diminish freedom in the Garden State. Speaking as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and a contributor to this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) website, I exposed that Gov. Murphy is now proposing astronomical increases in gun permitting and hunting fees. Not only would this financially burden existing, law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen in their already pressed wallets, but it would act to suppress future interest in self-defense, shooting sports and hunting. Don’t forget, New Jersey residents already suffer under the highest property tax burden in the nation.
Gov. Murphy’s proposals are to:
Increase the cost of a carry permit (which is nearly impossible to obtain due to being required to prove justifiable need, a measure the NRA-ILA is on the front lines of combating https://www.nraila.org/articles/20190128/nra-applauds-attorneys-general-amicus-brief-on-nj-permit-case) from $20 to $400. That’s 20 times its current rate—20. In other words, that’s a 1,900-percent fee hike.
Increase the one-time fee for the Firearms ID Card from $5 to $100, which is renewed every five years. This, too, is a 1,900-percent increase, or 20 times the current fee.
Increase the Gun Owner’s Permit from $2 to $50, which amounts to 25 times what it costs now.
Increase the tag fee for the black bear conservation hunt from $2 to $100. That’s an eye-popping 50 times what it costs today. (The hunt is instituted every year in order to control the state’s exploding black bear population.)
Enact an ammo tax of 10 percent.
Enact a firearm tax of 2.5 percent.
I was invited onto “Fox & Friends” to discuss this issue with co-host Ainsley Earhardt. We talked about a number of conservation facts during the segment, which I detail below, but you can watch the full segment here.
These fee increases constitute a clear attempt by the Murphy administration to bully law-abiding sportsmen and use us as scapegoats for violent crime in the state in order for the unpopular governor to score badly needed political points with liberal extremist groups.
In fact, according to a statement to Fox News ahead of my segment with Earhardt, Murphy said, “This is what’s needed to support the efforts… to fight crime and track gun violence, and to combat the trafficking of illegal guns into our state.” The pesky thing about it is, the facts don’t support these assertions.
The trafficking of illegal guns is, indeed, where most criminals get their guns. (Gun-rights advocates have been saying this forever, which is why good guys need guns too.) Murphy will have to elaborate on how hiking up taxes and fees on law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen who have never hurt anyone in their lives will “combat the flow of illegal guns from other states.” I wouldn’t hold my breath on him doing that, however, because the facts don’t support his talking points.
Murphy Is Pricing Out Law-Abiding, Working-Class Gun Owners
This kind of tax-and-punish policy is a well-loved arrow in the quiver of the Murphy administration, as cash-strapped New Jerseyans know all too well. In addition to the proposed hikes on gun owners and sportsmen, the New Jersey governor has made liberal fame across the nation for such radical policies as hiking up taxes on Airbnb, Uber and others, along with floating yet another gas tax hike. (It was just raised two years ago.) He has even received backlash for taxing the rain.
Hunters Are Conservationists
Law-abiding sportsmen are the No. 1 contributors to wildlife conservation in the state, and in the nation, for that matter, as noted by hunter-backed groups from the NRA to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). In fact, according to the CSF, New Jersey sportsmen support 16,905 jobs in the state and pump almost $1.26 billion—with a b—into the state economy. This is not an insignificant amount of spending in a state that already is strapped for cash. One would think that the governor would be more appreciative.
Additionally, more than 70 percent of the funding for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), or $6.6 million, comes from the sale of hunting permits related to deer alone. The DFW is the leading state agency for many wildlife conservation initiatives from game species management to endangered and non-game species and habitat protection programs.
The math is clear. Murphy, for all his bluster about being committed to environmentalism, has picked the wrong group of people to scapegoat for New Jersey’s woes. Gun owners and hunters are a huge financial, environmental and public safety boon to New Jersey, and he is lucky so many have stuck around the state despite the constant onslaught of liberal extremists attacking our hunting way of life.
About the Author Cody McLaughlin is a noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He works as a GOP consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence and as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, helping to represent the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.