Federal judge blocks tougher NJ gun laws that Murphy just signed
⚫ NJ recently enacted new gun laws in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring conceal-carry laws unconstitutional
⚫ Gun advocates sued the state immediately after Gov. Murphy signed the measure
⚫ NJ has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation
A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order against the New Jersey law that places extensive restrictions on concealed firearms carried in "sensitive locations.”
State Attorney General Matthew Platkin reacted to the order in a written statement on Monday.
“We are disappointed by the Court’s ruling, which is inconsistent with the Second Amendment and will make New Jerseyans considerably less safe,” Platkin said in a written response to New Jersey 101.5 when asked about the order from U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb.
"But this temporary order is just that: temporary. And we look forward to continuing to press our case, including ultimately on appeal."
Firearms Policy Coalition — which filed the lawsuit "before Governor Murphy's signature had a chance to dry" on the sensitive location carry ban — called the judge's order a victory.
"We are thrilled that the Court has wasted no time in preventing its enforcement and the irreparable constitutional injury that would have otherwise been suffered by our Plaintiffs and all of the peaceable people of New Jersey," Bill Sack, FPC’s Director of Legal Operations, said in a tweet on Monday.
Months earlier, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June made it easier for people to get a concealed-carry permit.
Just as New Jersey's tougher rules for concealed carry permits were paused by the judge's order, a 2023 Gun Law Rankings out from Everytown For Gun Safety showed New Jersey among the top five states with strongest gun laws.
NJ ranked fourth — behind California, New York and Hawaii.
NJ concealed carry law
The new state law endorsed on Dec. 22 outlined 25 “sensitive places” where carrying guns would still be illegal, including schools, sports stadiums, hospitals, government buildings, public transportation and daycare centers.
It also hiked the handgun permit application fee to $25 from the $2 mark, the first increase in more than 50 years.
Additionally, firearms cannot be carried on private property, including homes, businesses, stores, and houses of worship, “unless the property owner expressly communicates permission.”
The only exceptions were for law enforcement officers or private security guards. Violations would be a third-degree crime.
In addition to the list of sensitive places, the law expanded ineligibility for a carry permit to the following:
⚫ People with an outstanding arrest warrant for an indictable offense
⚫ People subject to certain restraining orders, including those who have violated a temporary or a final restraining order;
⚫ People subject to voluntary admissions to mental institutions or hospitals.
Under the same law, carry permit applicants must include four endorsements of character from non-relatives, who all must be interviewed by law enforcement.
New Jersey also became the first state in the nation to require all permit carriers to maintain and provide proof of liability insurance with coverage for at least $300,000 on account of injury, death, or damage to property arising out of ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of a firearm.
NJ ban 'unconstitutional'
The Firearms Policy Coalition and its co-plaintiffs have said that the “sensitive place” and vehicle transport restrictions “are so far-reaching and punitive that they effectively obliterate the ability to bear arms in public for the purpose of protecting one’s self and family.”
The Koons v. Reynolds case (Ronald Koons versus Atlantic County Prosecutor William Reynolds) has also been backed by Second Amendment Foundation, Coalition of New Jersey Firearms Owners and New Jersey Second Amendment Society.
The suit named Reynolds, Platkin, State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan and two other county prosecutors as co-defendants.
U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb, who issued Monday's temporary restraining order, has been a federal judge for 16 years. She was nominated in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
The judge’s action was applauded by state Republican lawmakers who said it validated their initial arguments last year, while a spokesperson for the governor slammed the move of a “right-wing federal judge.”
“Republicans warned when Governor Murphy’s concealed carry law was being rushed through the Legislature that it was an unconstitutional attempt by Democrats to circumvent the United States Supreme Court and strip away the rights of legal firearm owners,” Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho, R-Sussex, said in a written statement on Monday.
Oroho called the federal judge’s ruling “a victory for the 2nd Amendment and the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves both in public and in private.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris, said he hoped the ruling would be a “wake-up call for Democrats.”
“To my Democrat colleagues, I hate to say ‘I told you so,’ but I told you so,” Bucco continued. “Maybe now they’ll be willing to work with us on sensible solutions to ensure that the legal concealed carry of firearms can be practiced in a safe manner in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen.”
“While we are pleased that most of our concealed carry law remains in effect, we are disappointed that a right-wing federal judge, without any serious justification, has chosen to invalidate common sense restrictions around the right to carry a firearm in certain public spaces,” Murphy’s Deputy Press Secretary Tyler Jone said in a written response on Monday evening.
He continued “We are working closely with the Attorney General’s Office to correct this errant decision and to ensure that the law will be reinstated in its entirety.”