2nd Amendment Advocates Win Major Challenge to NJ’s Strict Concealed Carry Law

2nd Amendment Advocates Win Major Challenge to NJ’s Strict Concealed Carry Law
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gives a victory speech to supporters at Grand Arcade at the Pavilion in Asbury Park, N.J., on Nov. 3, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Matthew Vadum

A Second Amendment group won a preliminary injunction on May 16 against parts of a New Jersey gun control law that restricts the ability of those with a concealed weapon permit to actually carry firearms in public.

The state immediately filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit of the new ruling in Koons v. Platkin, court file 22-7464, which was decided in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey. Parts of the law, which was backed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, were already blocked by various courts.

Democratic leaders rushed the law, known as Chapter 131, through the state Legislature after the Supreme Court ruled 6–3 in June 2022 in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that laws preventing law-abiding individuals from carrying firearms in public for self-defense can’t be upheld unless they are consistent with the nation’s historical firearm regulation traditions.

Chapter 131 made it easier to obtain a carry permit but tightly limited where a gun could be actually carried. The law designated various “sensitive places” such as beaches and schools where guns couldn’t be carried. The law also increased minimum liability insurance requirements for those possessing carry permits. Gun rights groups sued, saying that the sensitive places restrictions were even worse than a previous law’s requirement that a gun owner demonstrate a “justifiable need” to carry in public.

The new injunction puts on hold carry bans in public locations used for movie sets, zoos, and at public gatherings where gun permits are normally required. It also halts another part of the law that required references for carry applicants to be interviewed in person, which the judge said was an “unduly burdensome” requirement. Other court orders already blocked carry bans in entertainment facilities, areas where alcohol is served, and on private property where the owner hasn’t provided permission to carry.

“Bruen required the State to bring its firearm laws in compliance with the Second Amendment,” U.S. District Court Judge Renée Marie Bumb, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, wrote in a 235-page opinion (pdf).

“Chapter 131 was the State’s response, but it went too far, becoming the kind of law that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson would have warned against since it ‘disarm[s] only those who are not inclined or determined to commit crimes [and] worsen[s] the plight of the assaulted, but improve[s] those of the assailants.’”

However, Bumb didn’t strike down Chapter 131 and left in place most of the statute’s gun restrictions, at least for the time being. The lawsuit itself is continuing.

The case was brought by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), along with the Second Amendment Foundation, Coalition of New Jersey Firearms Owners, and New Jersey Second Amendment Society.

“FPC is thrilled with today’s outcome,” FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack said.

“New Jersey lawmakers appear intent on continuing to thumb their noses at the mandates of the Constitution but today the Court issued a resounding ‘No.’”

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, a Democrat who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, denounced Bumb’s ruling.

“Today’s decision is devastating for public safety,” Platkin said in a statement.

“Over and over, the evidence has shown that keeping firearms out of sensitive places will keep our residents safe, and our elected officials passed sensible laws to do exactly that. But 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. This decision is bad constitutional law and bad for New Jersey. We will be appealing immediately.”

“There is one silver lining: Individuals can still control whether and when to allow firearms on their property,” Platkin said.

“No one may carry a firearm inside someone else’s home, or into a business closed to the public, without the owner’s express permission. And for everyone else—for retail establishments and other businesses open to the public—the owners can still make clear that carrying firearms is not welcome on their premises, just as homeowners can make clear guns are unwelcome on their lawns and driveways. Nothing in today’s opinion changes that important reality.”