Why New Jersey’s Concealed-Carry Law is Unconstitutional

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posted on January 7, 2023
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New Jersey has long been one of the worst states in the nation for law-abiding gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and the state’s carry laws are among the country’s most restrictive.

Entering 2023, state residents will find those laws to be even worse, thanks to a restrictive new carry measure, A.4769,  passed the week before Christmas, quickly signed into law by anti-gun Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and soon to be contested in court.

“This law ensures that no matter what Washington might throw at us, we will keep doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Murphy said upon signing the measure on December 22.

Of course, Murphy was referring to last summer’s important U.S. Supreme Court
ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that indicated New Jersey’s previous restrictive carry law—with an issuing standard similar to the New York law that was struck down–would be considered an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment.

In fact, the hastily conceived and passed new law was basically a middle finger from New Jersey lawmakers to the U.S. Supreme Court. While the Bruen decision recognized the right of Americans to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense, the New Jersey legislation does several things to make doing that even more expensive and inconvenient, as well as practically useless when going to most public places one might go in the Garden State. Along with drastically increasing the cost of getting an already-hard-to-acquire New Jersey carry permit, the measure also greatly expands the number of locations considered “sensitive places” where concealed carry is banned, including stadiums, parks, beaches, restaurants and theaters.

Other changes in the new law would expand training requirements for a permit, enable the government to use social media and online posts as grounds to deny a permit, ban carry at public gatherings, ban carry in one’s own vehicle, ban carry on all private property unless the owner specifically posts a sign saying it is permitted and give the government the power to deny carry permits using hard-to-defines standards like “temperament” and “character.”

Still other provisions in the law require gun owners to acquire special insurance without knowing if such policies are even legal or available, along with creating a special class of public officials who do not need a carry permit and who are allowed to carry firearms in places “normal” citizens cannot.

Nearly before the ink was dry on Murphy’s signature, an NRA-backed lawsuit—Siegel v. Platkin—was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, a state NRA affiliate, is a plaintiff in the case.

“New Jersey has simply changed its approach from one unconstitutional law that allowed ‘no one’ to carry to another unconstitutional law that allows one to carry ‘nowhere,’” the lawsuit states. “Notwithstanding the clear ruling of the United States Supreme Court, New Jersey simply does not want ordinary people to carry handguns in public—as is their fundamental right to do.”

Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, believes the unconstitutional law is bound for defeat in the courts.

“Not only will this legislation go down in flames in our lawsuit, but the Murphy administration will end up paying the very substantial legal costs of gun owners to bring it down,” Bach said in a released statement.

The organization has asked the judge to grant an emergency injunction preventing the new law from taking effect when the court reviews the complaint.

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