Judge blocks much of New Jersey gun law
Posted For: MugsMalone
By Daniel Han
Afederal judge blocked much of New Jersey’s recently enacted gun carry law on Tuesday, the latest setback in the Murphy administration’s efforts to tighten laws amid legal challenges from gun-rights groups.
The order issued by U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb applies for the duration of the litigation and expands upon prior court orders that temporarily blocked parts of the new law, formed in response to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York easing states’ carrying restrictions.
The judge’s order in New Jersey suspends, for now, impending requirements that gun carriers purchase liability insurance — a requirement that would have been the first statewide mandate of its kind.
It also reaffirms and expands prior court orders that blocked parts of the law which prohibits where New Jerseyans can carry guns. The order issued Tuesday blocks gun carry bans in zoos, public locations used for movie sets and public gatherings where government permits are needed. Prior temporary orders blocked gun bans in places where alcohol is served, entertainment facilities and on private property where the owner does not give explicit permission.
The judge also blocked another provision that required references for gun carry applicants to be interviewed in-person, which the judge wrote was “unduly burdensome.”
Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement that he plans to appeal the decision.
Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative Democrats moved to curtail the impacts of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that expanded the scope of who can carry guns outside the home. Murphy signed a bill into law earlier this year that overhauled the state’s gun carry laws and prohibited guns from being carried in large swaths of the state; the law was immediately the subject of legal challenges.
Bumb, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said in her opinion that the state “failed” to demonstrate historical analogues in the new law to firearm regulations of the past — a key litmus test the U.S. Supreme Court recently established in deciding whether gun laws are constitutional.
Platkin called the decision “devastating for public safety.”
“The court now insists that we are powerless to protect New Jersey residents, and proclaims that the Second Amendment requires allowing guns at parks and beaches, in libraries, at public gatherings, in zoos, and even in bars, among other sensitive places,” he said in a statement. “This decision is bad constitutional law and bad for New Jersey.”
A spokesperson for the governor called the decision “misguided and erroneous.” Murphy has consistently pushed to tighten the state’s already-strict gun laws throughout his governorship.
“This poorly reasoned decision sends exactly the wrong message as our nation confronts another devastating wave of mass shootings that have taken the lives of many across our country, including children,” spokesperson Tyler Jones said in a statement.
Gun-rights groups did not get everything they wanted. For instance, prohibitions on carrying guns at playgrounds and youth sporting events still stand. However, gun-rights groups said the opinion was evidence the new law is in legal trouble.
“Today’s ruling deals a devastating blow to Governor Murphy’s misguided law trashing right to carry,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. “The governor needs to see the handwriting on the wall and pivot from trying to block self-defense by law-abiding citizens to going after violent criminals instead.”