New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s unilateral decision to close gun stores and ranges and order the state police to stop conducting firearms purchase background checks is depriving millions of residents of their right to keep and bear arms by shutting off their access to their Second Amendment rights during a time of emergency. Now, gun groups are firing back at the governor’s order, legally speaking, by filing lawsuits challenging the governor’s order in federal court.
Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, joins me on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co today to talk about the group’s plans to sue the state, and the governor personally, over his decision. As Bach explains, not only do the closures of gun stores impact the ability of the state’s 8-million non-gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights for the first time in their lives, but by shuttering public and private ranges, the governor is also depriving existing gun owners of their right to gain proficiency with their arms.
Meanwhile, the Second Amendment Foundation has officially sued the governor and the police superintendent in federal court, along with a New Jersey resident and a gun store in the state.
Joining SAF in this action is the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, on behalf of Robert Kashinsky and Legend Firearms, a gun shop in the state. They are represented by noted civil rights attorney David Jensen.
Kashinsky sought to purchase a firearm for personal protection during the current crisis, but Murphy issued Executive Order 107 on March 21, which ordered all non-essential retail businesses closed to the public. The order does not include licensed firearms dealers on its list of “essential” businesses that may continue operating during the crisis.
“In order for New Jersey residents to purchase firearms,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “they must go through a licensed firearms retailer and pass a background check. However, Murphy’s order was subsequently followed by a notice posted on the State Police website that the agency is no longer conducting background checks.
“Gov. Murphy cannot simply suspend the Second Amendment, and neither can Supt. Callahan,” he continued. “Yet, under this emergency order, that’s exactly what they’re doing. The Constitution, and federal law, don’t allow that. New Jersey may have been the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights, but they’re the last state to recognize it.”
Meanwhile, we know, at least anecdotally, that many of the people lining up to buy firearms right now are first-time gun buyers. I’ve been really pleased to see organizations like the NRA and NSSF push out basic gun safety rules on their social media, and firearms attorney, veteran, and all around Second Amendment supporter Ryan Cleckner is doing his part at Gun University, where he’s made a ton of training material for new gun owners available. Ryan joins me on today’s program to talk not only about the effort to ensure that new gun owners have access to basic gun safety training, but the fact that these new gun owners could change the face of the Second Amendment debate going forward. Suddenly, the idea of owning a gun for self-defense doesn’t sound crazy to a lot of people, and we need to welcome these new gun owners into the fold with open arms and encourage them to get active politically to defend the rights they’ve chosen to exercise.