NJ Politics Digest: Tough on Guns? State Allows Drunk Off-Duty Cops to Carry

In Texas, it's illegal to carry a gun into a bar. In Tennessee, you can bring your handgun into a bar, but you can't have even a sip of alcohol. Should it be illegal for New Jersey's cops to drink while carrying guns? A grieving family says yes.

New Jersey police officers at a crime scene in Paterson, N.J.
New Jersey police officers at a crime scene in Paterson, N.J. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

New Jersey is known for having some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

But while other states ban people from carrying weapons while drinking alcohol or even from going into bars while armed, New Jersey has no such ban.

Now, as NJ.com reports, the family of a man shot and killed in a bar brawl by an off-duty police officer is trying to change that…without much success.

The family of Michael Gaffney, a 37-year-old Piscataway man killed by an off-duty Newark police office in 2016, reached out to their local legislators about a meaure to ban drinking while armed. So far, the story notes, no legislative action has been taken.

A friend of Gaffney has started a petition on Change.org, hoping to make it illegal for police officers to drink while armed or to bring weapons into any place in which they plan to drink. Gaffney’s family thinks the law should apply to everyone, though New Jersey’s strict regulations about who can carry a concealed weapon means that most people who do so are retired or current police officers, according to NJ.com.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the Policemen’s Benevolent Association and the Association of Chiefs of Police did not respond to requests for comment, the story notes. But the President of Newark FOP Lodge 12 said the law wasn’t necessary, and that police should be armed at bars in order to prevent attacks and crime.

The state Association of Chiefs of Police, however, does suggest a model firearms policy for local departments that say off-duty officers shouldn’t carry their weapons if they anticipate drinking alcohol.

Quote of the Day: “I don’t see it as a partisan issue, it’s just a quality of life issue. The majority of towns that have banned it have been of Democrat majority.” —Westwood Councilwoman Alyssa Dawson, a Republican, on the sale of marijuana if legalized.

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