Federal judge blocks more of New Jersey’s new gun carry law


A federal judge on Monday blocked more of New Jersey’s gun carry law from being enforced, less than a month after she blocked other sections of the newly-enacted law.

The order issued by U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb — an appointee of former President George W. Bush — temporarily lifts the blanket prohibition on carrying guns in public parks, on beaches and in casinos. A prior order Bumb issued earlier this month blocked sections of the law that prohibited guns from being carried in places where alcohol is served, in public libraries or museums, entertainment facilities and on private property where the owner does not give explicit permission. It also blocked restrictions on how guns are carried in vehicles.

The earlier order remains in effect.

The new law, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed in December, revamped the state’s gun carry application process and requirements, and established “sensitive places” where guns could not be carried. The law was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June which drastically expanded the scope of who could carry guns outside the home.

A legal challenge was filed immediately after Murphy signed the measure into law.

New York enacted a similar law prohibiting where guns can be carried, but that law is also the subject of ongoing litigation.

Gun rights groups did not get everything they sought from Bumb. For example, the judge said the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the prohibition of guns being carried in zoos, medical facilities, airports and on movie sets. Gun rights groups also wanted her to block the prohibition of carrying guns on playgrounds. Bumb denied that request, declaring that playgrounds were analogous to schools — area courts have suggested guns cannot be carried.

Challenges to those provisions of the law, however, are expected to resurface in later phases of the litigation.

“This marks the beginning of the end for Governor Murphy’s blatantly unconstitutional new carry law, which is going down in flames,” Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, said in a statement. “Murphy has clearly demonstrated that constitutional issues are indeed above his pay grade.”

In her 46-page opinion, Bumb, sitting in Camden, wrote that the state failed to provide evidence that some “sensitive places” defined in the law were analogous to “a historical tradition of firearm regulation,” the legal standard for bearing guns being carried somewhere.

Democratic leaders have insisted the new law is consistent with the constitution and the Supreme Court’s June ruling. Senate President Nick Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who played a key role in crafting the law, had their motion to intervene in the case to defend the law approved on Monday.

“Our law pursues common sense boundaries that keep dangerous weapons out of places of learning and recreation where there are children, families, and folks going about their lives in peace,” Coughlin said in a statement. “I am disappointed, but we have joined the lawsuit to ensure our voice is heard in the legal process and look forward to the full law taking effect to keep our communities safe.”

In separate statements, spokespeople for Murphy and Attorney General Matt Platkin also said they were “disappointed” by Bumb’s ruling.

“We are disappointed that the court invalidated common-sense restrictions on the right to carry firearms in public, which are fully consistent with the Second Amendment,” Murphy spokesperson Tyler Jones said. “We look forward to being able to appeal the ruling and are confident that it will be reversed.”

“We are disappointed that the court has undermined important and longstanding protections against firearms violence in our public parks and in casinos,” Platkin said. “Today’s order is bad for public safety and inconsistent with the Second Amendment. But these orders remain temporary, and we look forward to pressing our case, including ultimately on appeal.”

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