It’s been more than three months since the Supreme Court struck down “may issue” carry laws in New York and a handful of other states but many gun owners who’ve applied for their concealed carry licenses post-Bruen are still waiting… and speaking out about the unreasonable delays.
In southern New Jersey, for instance, a group of Second Amendment supporters were protesting outside of the Cape May County courthouse last week, angry about the glacial pace of permit approvals in the wake of the Bruen decision. Just 25 permits (and in some cases less) are being issued every two weeks in the county, with each new permit holder having to report to court to receive their permit (and a lecture) from a judge. Keith Woodrow, who owns the Full Metal Jacket Gun Range in Seaville, was a part of last week’s protest and says the local court system is imposing needless delays on law-abiding citizens who just want to exercise their constitutionally-protected rights.
Woodrow said the Administrative Office of the Courts, in its own directives, says there is no hearing required for the gun carry permit unless there is something questionable in the applicant’s background. He said the court is violating its own directives.Woodrow said anyone who wants a handgun carry permit must fill out an application and submit it to their local police department, which performs a background check.“They have 60 days to complete your background check and then they turn it over to Superior Court,” he said.Woodrow said the courts are turning around and sending the application packet to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office for another background check.“They don’t trust that the municipal police departments are doing the background checks correctly. So now, it goes over to Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, and that’s probably two weeks right there. So then, they turn around and send them back to the court. And then the court just sits on it,” Woodrow complained. “Okay, so the first hearing date is tomorrow (Oct. 7) for Cape May County, and they’re only doing 25 people at a time. There are hundreds of people waiting right now.”
Jill Houck, the trial court administrator for the Superior Court in Cape May and Atlantic counties, disputes Woodward’s characterization of the delays and says that the courts are moving as quickly as they can while still handling all of its other business.
Houck said people also must understand that the courts are still dealing with backlogs and delays caused by Covid. She pointed out the need for justice in routine matters of the court’s operations.“We have a full criminal docket besides these permits. People are incarcerated who have the presumption of innocence, and they want their cases disposed of,” Houck said. “We are doing these permits in the order they were filed.”