Today I had the chance to chat with Hirsh Singh. Singh ran a successful campaign in the last Senate race and while he did not take Booker’s seat, he was a formidable opponent. Singh is a New Jersey native from south Jersey and has an engineering degree from NJIT, and applied his education and background to run his family business. Singh is one of two candidates that specifically mentions the Second Amendment on their campaign page and from what is noted there, takes a very Constitutional stance.
The Second Amendment guarantees our constitutional right to own firearms, carry them how we choose and use them in defense of ourselves and our loved ones.
We must affirm these rights in New Jersey, remove limitations to ownership and concealed carry, and enact reciprocity legislation to ensure our constitutional rights are respected within and beyond our state borders.
The big question that always comes up first in New Jersey is the subject of concealed carry. Carry in New Jersey is so heavily regulated under a “may issue” system, but it is in fact a “no issue” state when it comes to those not politically connected. My first question was on this very subject
“What is your policy on concealed carry? What are your thoughts on that?”:
I fully support concealed carry, I believe in constitutional carry. I think that it is essential that people have the ability to defend themselves and no one needs to know you have the ability to defend yourself, your loved ones or your business. I think that concealed carry also adds an element to those criminals out there that they should not consider someone that looks harmless to be able to be victimized.
As it stands now, the law is written and the “justifiable need” provision keeps the majority of citizens from being able to obtain a concealed carry permit. I asked Singh about that in the context of the Executive branch and what kind of abilities he’d have as Governor to expand liberties for the citizens of New Jersey. He held no punches, in disagreeing with me on how the Executive has its hands tied on the subject:
I disagree with that assertion that as an Executive you can’t fix a lot of these problems immediately. I think that you can because as per the Constitution, its very clear that any law that is created that is Unconstitutional is no longer legal. And in that capacity, it has been used multiple times in the Supreme Court, there is precedent, and that has been used to uphold many of the tenants and freedoms that are protected…I think the actual case law is Norton v. Shelby, that an unconstitutional act is not law. It confers no rights, it imposes no duties, it affords no protection, it creates no office, no legal contemplation, it’s as inoperative as if it’s never been passed. So as an Executive I think that we can do a lot of things in a very immediate fashion upon assuming office to correct the course of our Second Amendment.
I asked Singh about potential challenges to New Jersey law and what kind of work he would do with his Attorney General when challenges come up to some of these Unconstitutional policies. His answer speaks to the point from a liberty perspective:
I am really of the opinion that government is not supposed to be creating law that limits your ability to fully express your Second Amendment…I’m a liberty guy. Liberty is really the fundamental reason that we have all our prosperity today and I would defend that.
We discussed the recent Supreme Court opinion striking down firearm seizures without due process. For the readers that are unaware, New Jersey has a very egregious “red flag” law, and Singh’s opinion on that subject is as follows:
When you see country loving patriots go to a rally for President Trump last year and then be called terrorists or being called mentally deranged by media for supporting President Trump and the America First agenda, it destroys the credibility of anyone trying to pass any type of ‘red flag’ law. Because now they are using the power of the media and at times the muscle of the government to limit your freedoms. And if a governmental agency or any type of doctor may have a differing political opinion of you is able to then say ‘we’re going to put you on a list and now limit your freedoms’, it goes against everything that we consider foundational.”
“I’m 100% against ‘red flag’ laws…I’m against these seizures. I don’t think it’s right, and I would look into people that have been harmed bye these laws and try to ameliorate situations that have been very punishing to good people that were doing no harm.
While we were chatting, Singh did mention that he supports background checks. I asked him for some clarity on his stance. In New Jersey, we’re required to get multiple background checks in order to obtain a single firearm. I brought up the recent challenge to New Jersey’s Firearms Identification Card and Pistol Purchaser Permit scheme and this is what Singh had to say about the subject on background checks:
Having to do things twice[or more] is wrong. So if there is an intent to have a process that’s repeating certain types of actions, I think the onus should be on the government. I think there should be a maximum amount of time the government can take to do these checks, it should be a very short window, like 24 hours, where if they are unable to do their validation then the sale should be allowed.
When I asked Singh about his personal relationship with firearms he talked about having grown up in a family that had firearms. He talked a little about some family heirlooms that they have. He said he values people’s right to not only “be safe and feel safe, but also how [firearms] are an equalizer…a basic element of freedom.”
I talked about the media’s obsessions with AR-15’s. In New Jersey, modern sporting rifles are limited to two “evil features.” In the last legislative session, a bill was introduced to lower the number to one “evil feature.” I asked Singh about his view on modern sporting rifles and he has a pretty poignant response:
I am the only candidate that put up a video firing an AR-15. I found that gun to be a very light weight and an awesome tool. And I think that anyone that is trying to use sensationalism to limit someones freedoms is running against our founding documents. I think this is silly, they’re pulling on emotional heart strings and has no basis in reality.
What about magazine capacity limits? Singh signs off:
There should be no limitation on your capability to express your freedom…They’re obsessively pounding to their far left ignorant base and they need to keep showing that they’re ‘doing something’ and that’s why they keep trying to slowly but surly take away this freedom altogether. I would undo all that they have done over these last couple of decades. New Jersey used to be an open carry state and we need to return to our fundamentals.
I asked Singh about state funds going to organizations designed to strip us of our freedoms. Murphy recently touted wanting to give an additional two million of your tax dollars to the Rutgers GVRC. Singh has a much more pragmatic approach concerning fiscal responsibility and everyone on either side of the aisle should take note of what he had to say:
That money should be going to help ameliorate our population of veterans that are in poverty, our law enforcement that are retired and living below the poverty line, and to those that are on the streets homeless…we don’t have money to spare in these capacities until we make sure that every American Citizen is being taken care of properly and is able to have an opportunity to succeed. That’s money poorly spent. If a private entity wants to spend its money wasting its time on taking freedoms away, they can do so. But, that’s not where money should be allocated from a state aspect. Plus it’s an example of the bloat in Trenton that must be cut. And I will cut.
What does Singh think about the mandatory firearm training that was rolled out as part of a package of bills for simple ownership or possession of firearms?
I believe that it’s very healthy to have minimum training in high schools so that we’re familiarizing our youth with proper gun safety, etiquette, and respect. I think we should be familiarizing our population on how to be upstanding American citizens that are able to defend ourselves, our loved ones, our state, our nation, and in that capacity I can say that it should be provided as advice, but no, not required.
In closing our conversation, I asked Singh if there was any specific messaging that he wanted to get out. We parted on the following commentary:
Our nation and our state are at a crossroads. There is a clear choice in the June 8th 2021 primary election, an America First candidate who is 100% dedicated to returning New Jersey and America to our strong fundamental values of liberty and strength. Or, a RINO never-Trump Republican who has a Democrat leash around his neck. I ask for your vote so we can return our freedoms fully to the people.
Watch the debate on May 25th on 101.5…will be streamed online at 7 PM.
I don’t know Singh on a personal level, but it was a pleasure to be able to chat with him. When it comes to “gun stuff” and the Second Amendment, Singh’s narrative seems pretty spot on. From my perspective, he’s a liberty-oriented guy, but that is for you the voter to decide. Like the NRA report card that just came out on the candidates, I’d agree that Singh is an “A?”. We don’t have a legislative or executive history to follow, but he was willing to sign his name next to the concepts we discussed.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .