NATIONAL NEWS

Federal judge blocks part of New Jersey’s handgun carry law

May 16, 2023, 3:04 PM

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked part of New Jersey’s new handgun carry law that barred weapons from being carried in so-called sensitive places and halted a new insurance mandate the law sought to institute.

Second Amendment rights groups that filed suit against the law hailed the opinion as a victory, while the spokespeople for the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s leaders and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy stood by the law.

State Attorney General Matt Platkin filed an appeal to the order by chief U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb.

The court order blocks state officials from enforcing the law, which barred lawful carry of firearms in certain places. Among the places covered by the judge’s order are: within 100 feet (30 meters) of certain public gatherings, zoos, bars and restaurants and certain entertainment facilities. The judge’s order on Tuesday did not specify that it was ending prohibitions in places such as schools, universities or child care facilities.

The judge’s order also blocked an insurance mandate for firearms carriers that was scheduled to take effect in July.

The order blocks only part of the law, which Murphy signed last year days before Christmas, and the judge wrote that she found most of the law’s permitting requirements to be consistent with the Second Amendment.

“This Nation has historically disarmed dangerous individuals or individuals who could endanger the public with a firearm. With some exceptions, Chapter 131’s firearm permitting scheme generally adheres to that historical tradition and aims to keep firearms out of the hands of those who could harm the public,” Bumb wrote.

But the opinion is scathing in parts as well.

“What the Second Amendment prohibits the States from doing, and what the State of New Jersey has done here is to ‘prevent law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,’” Bumb wrote, quoting the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision on handgun carry permits. “That is plainly unconstitutional.”

Second Amendment rights groups praised the decision. They viewed it as building on the success of a similar ruling Bumb issued in this case earlier this year, temporarily blocking the law.

“Today’s ruling deals a devastating blow to Governor Murphy’s misguided law trashing right to carry,” Scott Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, wrote in an email. “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.”

Murphy’s spokesperson, Tyler Jones, called the decision “misguided and erroneous.”

“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,” Jones wrote in an email.

The 2022 law stemmed directly from the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision that struck down a New York state law requiring people to show proper cause to get a carry license. The ruling affected states with similar laws, including New Jersey, where carry applicants had to show justifiable need to get a permit.

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Federal judge blocks part of New Jersey’s handgun carry law