The Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court’s stay as to eight sensitive places cited in Governor Phil Murphy’s strict new gun law.
What it means is that the gun reform law remains in effect and no guns may be carried in those places pending further action in the litigation.
“I am thrilled that the Third Circuit has reinstated the vast majority of the law that I proudly signed last December to keep guns out of our most sensitive and vulnerable public places,” said Murphy. “Because of this decision, guns will not be allowed to proliferate in locations such as parks, beaches, libraries, bars, and restaurants where alcohol is served. This decision will make New Jersey a safer state for all of us and will ensure that New Jersey continues to have among the lowest rates of gun violence in the nation. I want to thank Attorney General Platkin and his entire team for this crucial victory, as well as Senate President Scutari and Speaker Coughlin for their support.”
The court’s ruling is the latest in an ongoing spat between New Jersey and U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb.
Last month, Bumb lopped off a piece of the gun law enacted by Democratic lawmakers and signed by Murphy.
Gun groups who initially objected to the law got a chance to feel some measure of vindication.
So did Republican lawmakers who opposed the initial bill.
“The bill is so poorly written,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-26) last year. “…When this is done, when you pass it today and the Senate passes it, people are going to read this bill and have no clue when they can carry and when they can’t, because the bill’s awful. It was written poorly, it was reviewed poorly, and it’s nothing but cowardice from those of you on that side who know this is a bad thing, who refuse to have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and do the right thing.”
That’s his view, and – to a large degree – Bumb’s view, as expressed in her 235-page opinion.
For their part, Attorney General Matt Platkin and his allies, including Senate President Nick Scutari and Speaker Craig Coughlin, appealed, trying to shake off the sting of Bumb’s argument, while preparing for a legal countermove.
From The New Jersey Monitor:
[Bumb] “issued preliminary injunctions that lift the state’s ban on firearms at zoos, film sets, public gatherings, medical offices, and airports’ pickup/dropoff areas. The new order also prohibits the state from requiring gun owners to get liability insurance, a provision that was set to take effect July 1. Bumb also blocked a provision that would have required in-person interviews of character references for gun applicants.”
They saw it coming, a defendant-sympathetic source said in response to the injunctions, as the New Jersey defendants in the case attempt to undo what she did and coordinate an appeal. Specifically, they want to challenge the gun in the car and insurance pieces of Bumb’s pushback. They did take some degree of solace from the parts of the law that the judge left in place, namely the elimination of firearms from schools and government buildings.
The judge’s May opinion represented the latest salvo in an ongoing fight that intensified with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the Bruen case, which struck down a New York statute that required a demonstration of “proper cause” in order to obtain a permit to carry a handgun.
Because New Jersey’s long prevailing firearms law had previously required a justifiable need to carry a handgun, the legislature enacted Chapter 131 to satisfy the new standard enunciated by Bruen.
But today, Murphy’s allies notched a win in the ongoing seesaw.
“We are extremely gratified that the Third Circuit recognized what we have always said: New Jersey is likely to win this case because our sensitive-places law complies with the Second Amendment,” said Platkin. “The Third Circuit correctly stayed the district court’s dangerous injunction that allowed individuals to carry weapons into places like parks and zoos, libraries and museums, bars and casinos, and permitted demonstrations. This is a tremendous win for public safety, and we will continue fighting for our law.”
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