NJ carry case on hold pending SCOTUS ruling

By most guesses, we’re still probably a little more than two months away from the Supreme Court issuing its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the case challenging New York’s “may issue” carry laws and its requirement that residents demonstrate a “justifiable need” to bear arms before getting the state’s permission to do so.

We don’t know what the Court will say, but many gun control activists have been hoping that the decision will be a narrow one, perhaps so narrow that it won’t implicate the similar “may issue” laws in states like California, Maryland, and New Jersey. I suspect that’s wishful thinking on the part of the gun prohibitionists, and it looks like even the acting Attorney General of New Jersey is acknowledging that the Bruen case may have major implications for the Garden State’s gun control regime as well.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson agreed to stay a lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s carry laws until after the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen is released; a request made not only by the plaintiffs in the case, but by the defendants as well.

On March 24, New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who succeeded Bruck in February, sent a letter to Wolfson requesting that the case be stayed. In his letter, Platkin made note of the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending case involving New York’s handgun laws.

“There is a substantial likelihood the court’s ruling in that (New York) case would govern or at least inform the ultimate result in this case and, as a result, the parties in this matter all jointly request that this case be stayed pending the disposition of (the U.S. Supreme Court case),” Platikin wrote.

The following day, March 25, Wolfson ordered that the New Jersey case be stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

Very interesting. Presumably if Platkin truly believed that the SCOTUS decision wouldn’t have an impact on New Jersey’s carry laws he wouldn’t have requested that the case be stayed. It makes sense that the plaintiffs in this case, including the Firearms Policy Coalition and two New Jersey residents whose applications for a carry permit were denied, would want to see what SCOTUS has to say before asking the federal court in New Jersey to rule on the state’s current carry laws, but Platkin didn’t have to follow suit here.

Now maybe the acting AG just chose to kick this can down the road a few months because it doesn’t matter to him one way or another. New Jersey’s “may issue” (which can more accurately be described as “will not issue if you’re an average citizen”) will remain in effect for the time being, which is what the state of New Jersey is hoping for, so a delay in this case doesn’t actively harm the state’s interests. Still, when the top law enforcement official in an anti-gun state like New Jersey acknowledges, however obliquely, that the Supreme Court may be getting ready to declare its carry laws unconstitutional, I think it’s worth noting.