Our first interview is with Scott Bach, currently serving NRA Board Member, and President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is the NRA State Association for New Jersey.Â My questions are in bold.Â Scott’s answers are italicized.
Why stay in New Jersey?Â There’s plenty of freedom just across the river.Â Why stay in New Jersey and fight against the odds?
There are many good reasons to leave New Jersey, and some of our finest patriots have made their exit in recent years. Those of us choosing to stay are determined to defend freedom no matter what the odds, and in recent years we have proven that anything is possible by repeatedly defeating the major legislative priorities of anti-gun extremists in a place where it should have been easy for them to prevail. By keeping the battle in the â€œfront lineâ€ state of New Jersey, we occupy the resources of the anti-gun-rights movement and help keep the fight contained here rather than allowing it to easily spread elsewhere. For this reason, gun owners from other states should not write off New Jersey, and should actively support the gun rights organizations that have taken on this especially challenging burden, which actually helps the cause elsewhere. Because we face a State House controlled by anti-gunners, we have had to invent innovative techniques and strategies, and make novel arguments that have also helped shape the debate nationally.
The situation in New Jersey right now can best be described as defensive.Â Lately it seems as though we may actually be making some progress in holding off new gun control in The Garden State.Â IfÂ presented with the opportunity to go on the offensive, what will your priorities be?
We are actively working under extremely challenging circumstances to elect a majority of pro-Second Amendment lawmakers, and to change the minds of those still in office.Â A rapid sea change in the State House is unlikely right now (though we have opportunities to take back the Governorâ€™s office and make inroads in the Assembly in 2009).Â When the day eventually comes that we have a majority of pro-Second Amendment lawmakers in the State House, my priorities will include: repealing New Jerseyâ€™s misguided semi-auto ban and â€œsmart gunâ€ law, removing impediments to carry rights, strengthening citizensâ€™ right of self-defense, making firearms easier for honest citizens to obtain, and eliminating New Jerseyâ€™s insane system of regulation which is in essence a ban on everything with narrow, ill-conceived exemptions which put honest citizens at risk of lengthy jail sentences for â€œcrimesâ€ like stopping for food or fuel on the way to or from the target range.Â New Jersey needs to stop targeting gun rights and start punishing criminal behavior.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that the Second Amendment was an individual right.Â What impact do you think this could have on New Jersey’s draconian gun control laws?Â Is this case something that can be used in the short term, or is there more legal precedent that needs to be hashed out before proceeding forward with a court strategy?
The Heller case essentially defined the outer contours of the Second Amendment, leaving a universe within those contours left to be explored by courts in decades to come.Â Before that exploration can take place, there must be a judicial determination that the Second Amendment applies to the States via the somewhat obscure legal doctrine known as â€œincorporation.â€Â Several carefully selected incorporation cases are now pending in several states.Â Once those cases are decided, there will be other cases that test draconian gun laws.Â However, case selection is critically important, and should be viewed from a national perspective.Â Only the clearest, most egregious cases should be brought first, in the places most likely to yield positive results, and the legal minds examining potential cases are absolutely first rate, and they comprehend the big picture.Â A poorly selected case in one state could impact the entire nation negatively.Â A decades-old New Jersey case by an overzealous party should serve as a warning.Â That case, Burton v. Sills, actually held that the Second Amendment does NOT apply in New Jersey, and it was cited in Heller by anti-gunners as a model that should be followed nationally.Â Fortunately, 5 Justices disagreed in Heller.Â Gun owners need to be patient while the lengthy case selection process unfolds, and respect the judgment of the great legal minds of our day as to when and where the best cases should be taken up.Â Those who have not been disciplined in this way in the past have done damage to our cause, and have made accomplishing our legal goals much more difficult.
One area of controversy in New Jersey is over bear hunting.Â Most wildlife experts are in agreement that New Jersey is in desperate need of a bear hunt in order to reduce their population to manageable numbers.Â What is ANJRPC doing to help authorize a bear hunt in New Jersey?
In partnership with sportsmenâ€™s groups, ANJRPC has been working both publicly and behind the scenes to reinstate the New Jersey bear hunt as a public safety measure.Â New Jerseyâ€™s out of control bear population is a threat to life and property.Â Our bears have become habituated to humans and identify them as a potential food source, and have lost all fear of people.Â As a result, we have had a dramatic rise in bear attacks and incidents, including home and car break-ins, stalkings and other predatory behavior.Â In 2002, a 6-month old girl was yanked head-first out of a stroller and partially EATEN by a black bear before dying just a few miles north of New Jerseyâ€™s borders.Â In 2003 and 2005, we were successful in reinstating limited hunts (the first in 35 years) which temporarily reduced bear incidents, but the Corzine administration has used every dirty trick in the book to block further hunts.Â An exploding population of habituated bears combined with a shrinking habitat virtually ensure that subsequent incidents are inevitable.
I know you grew up in New York City, which is not typically fertile breeding ground for gun rights activists.Â Given the high likelihood that subsequent case law built on Heller will invalidate much of the City’s gun laws, and probably some of New Jersey’s, what steps do you think could be taken to introduce the Second Amendment and shooting sports to more urban and suburban residents.
My observation is that there are already very healthy numbers of gun owners even in large metropolitan areas.Â The problem is that they happen to be greatly outnumbered by anti-gunners, so their collective power is blunted.Â There are already thriving outreach programs for new shooters in metropolitan areas, and those will continue to grow over time.Â For example, NRAâ€™s Women On Target and basic firearms instruction programs have an active presence based in New York City, and ANJRPCâ€™s outreach programs to women, youth, and minorities draw several thousand new shooters per year.Â Â These activities will continue and grow as Hellerâ€™s impact is felt.
I want to thank Scott for participating in our Q&A session, and I hope he will have your support for the Board of Directors.