TRENTON – There’s always plenty of space here to talk about sweeping gun reform, so let’s focus on Gov. Phil Murphy’s ambitious new plan. He only wants to give permits to New Jerseyans who pass gun safety classes, and wants to raise the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. Murphy is making the move following the rash of mass shootings in the United States, like the one late last night in Indianapolis that killed at least eight people. The governor has some other common-sense proposals, too, like requiring guns to be locked up in homes, stamping ammunition to make it easier to trace, mandating an electronic database of all ammunition sold, banning .50 caliber firearms, requiring people moving to New Jersey to register their guns and making it easier to sue gun manufacturers when their products are used to commit crimes. Opponents, of course, are apoplectic, calling the governor’s plan “micro-management” of innocent people, rather than going after the real criminals. Our over-simplified take: Less guns, less people getting shot.

STATEWIDE – If you ignore all else, and look at life these days from a business angle, things seem on a serious upswing. Maybe it’s all those $1,400 stimulus checks and vaccinations, but the retail sector is gushing over nearly a 10% spike in sales in March. Then, check out the stock market, where the Dow has surpassed 34,000 and corporate earnings are higher than analysts could dream. And, what about jobs? Jobless claims are now at the lowest level since the pandemic began, with only 576,000 Americans applying for unemployment last week, a sharp decline from the 900,000 people seeking benefits just three months ago. It all seems to mean good stuff ahead, at least in this one sector of a very polarized America.

ATLANTIC CITY – The ongoing, never-ending issue about smoking in casinos is back in the news, as health care advocates are calling for the temporary smoking ban to be made permanent, the AP reports. Of course, the casinos are against the ban, or anything else that would drive potential gamblers away from the slots. The casinos argue they have invested heavily in air filtration systems, so no problem, right? Well, not so fast, argues the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, which says casinos are smoke-free in 20 states, so why not New Jersey? It’s been 15 years since the A.C. casinos were exempted from a state law involving indoor smoking, but perhaps, as the casinos are revived after the pandemic, the non-smoking policy should mercifully remain.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Pogonophobia is the fear of beards.

DOWN THE SHORE – This summer, when you run out for a simple hamburger, no cheese, expect it to cost $18, and a long line of people waiting to buy one. That’s because the Jersey Shore rental market is absolutely crazy, the Asbury Park Press reports, with “bennies” willing to spend whatever it takes for a week of sun and surf. That means rental prices have skyrocketed, and merchants realize that these out-of-town people will pay practically anything for a bed and a breakfast. Need a reservation at your favorite waterfront restaurant? Good luck. Want to find a parking spot near your favorite beach? That’s a funny one. And thinking about a quick get-away for a couple of nights at an oceanfront hotel? Hey, pal, there’s a four-night minimum, a newly-created “resort fee” and a full credit check. Welcome to the Summer of ’21. Jersey shore-style. Pay up.

WOODBRIDGE – There’s very little leniency for the man famously caught in a ridiculous slip-and-fall “accident” in a cafeteria in 2018. There’s surveillance video showing the independent contractor filling a cup with ice, throwing the ice on the floor and laying on top of it. The man was then taken to the hospital for his “injuries,” claiming he suffered from stuttering speech, constant headaches and painful "frozen spasm sensations," among other ailments. The Home News Tribune reports the Randolph man sought “pre-trial intervention,” to avoid punishment and have his record wiped clean. The response from a Superior Court judge? No way. Rather, he was given two years’ probation, 14 hours of community service and the video of his “incident'' appearing all over the airwaves.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

OTTAWA, Ontario – Canadian voters don’t expect much of their politicians – other than requiring them to be fully clothed for Zoom meetings. And that is where House of Commons' William Amos failed. The lawmaker, who has represented the Quebec district of Pontiac since 2015, appeared in a video conference with his fellow lawmakers completely naked Wednesday. A screenshot obtained by The Canadian Press shows Amos standing behind a desk between the Quebec and Canadian flags, his private parts hidden by what appears to be a mobile phone in one hand. “This was an unfortunate error,″ Amos said, assumingly while clothed. “My video was accidentally turned on as I was changing into my work clothes after going for a jog.” Meanwhile, Claude DeBellefeuille, an opposing legislator, was quick to raise the incident, suggesting all-male Parliament members be required to wear a jacket and tie, as well as a shirt, underwear and trousers.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 1986 that everyone figured Muammar Gaddafi was dead. So, the Libyan revolutionary went on TV to say: “See? Still breathing.”

WORD OF THE DAY

Obstreperous – [ub-STREP-uh-rus] – adjective

Definition: Stubbornly resistant to control 

Example: We sometimes cope with obstreperous writers to get this newsletter out each morning.

WIT OF THE DAY

“This is my maiden voyage. My first speech since I was the president of the United States and I couldn’t think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada.”

-George W. Bush

BIDEN BLURB

“I am a gaffe machine. But my God what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Clouds