Second Amendment groups file lawsuit against New Jersey carry regime

November 3, 2020


Matthew Hoy

Yesterday, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society filed suit in federal court in New Jersey over that state's "may issue" scheme for issuing permits to carry a loaded handgun outside the home.

The case, Bennett v. Davis, alleges that New Jersey's system for issuing permits for the carrying of firearms outside the home requires residents to prove they have a "justifiable need." That term is defined as providing proof of an "urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun."

New Jersey law makes it a crime for a law-abiding individual to carry a loaded handgun outside of the home unless they have been issued a permit to carry a handgun, thus denying them their right to bear arms. Worse, State law prevents them from obtaining such a permit because of further unconstitutional requirements, such as the demonstration of “justifiable need”, among others. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has previously said that “private citizens should not be able to carry weapons based on mere generalized fear.” However, say the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court’s precedents take that policy choice off the table, and the Constitution itself provides the only justification necessary for law-abiding adults to exercise their fundamental, individual right to bear arms.

“This case is fundamentally a simple but important one,” said attorney for the plaintiffs, Raymond DiGuiseppe. “In New Jersey today, the right to carry loaded handguns in public for all lawful purposes, including self defense, is completely denied to law-abiding people, like and including our clients. But the U.S. Supreme Court has held that such bans are categorically unconstitutional. We look forward to vindicating the rights of our clients and forcing New Jersey to respect the Constitution.”

That high bar makes puts New Jersey, perhaps second to only Hawaii, as one of the most difficult states from which to receive permission for law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun. Criminals, on the other hand, seem to have little problem acquiring and carrying handguns in the Garden State.

The fight against unconstitutional state laws will continue through the courts. Legal observers have good reason to believe the addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court may mean that the days of treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right are numbered.

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