As of today, a temporary restraining order is in place preventing New Jersey from enforcing several of the state’s newest “sensitive places,” including the state’s blanket prohibition on licensed concealed carry in any restaurant where alcohol is served. But New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin is publicly reminding sports bars and restaurant owners that they can still choose to ban guns from their premises if they want, and he’s encouraging them to do so ahead of this weekend’s playoff game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles.
“No matter what you’ve heard, here’s a fact: you CAN display signs prohibiting guns in and around your establishment,” read the Twitter post from Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “Whether they’re sporting midnight green or rooting for Big Blue, let’s keep all fans and patrons safe this weekend.”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision, combined with the temporary restraining order, left many bar and restaurant owners confused, Platkin, the attorney general, said in an interview.
“We received a number of questions and frankly, with the football game coming up, there’s going to be a lot of people out at bars and restaurants,” Platkin said.
“Giants and Eagles games tend to be hotly contested, and we just want folks to know that if they want to set those rules, they have the legal right to do so. We’re not telling them they have to, but it’s within their legal rights,” he said.
They really do think every law-abiding gun owner is just a violent criminal waiting for the opportune moment, don’t they?
Here’s a clue for Platkin (as well as any restaurant owner who might have heartburn over the thought of a concealed carry holder watching the game in their establishment): there are more than 20 million concealed carry licensees around the nation, and if they were the type to whip out a gun and threaten patrons over a football game, there’d be evidence of that on any given Sunday. Possessing a carry license doesn’t guarantee that you’re a saint, but the fact remains that the vast majority of those who are legally bearing arms will never commit a violent crime, with or without their gun.
Platkin is correct that private property owners (including restaurants) can choose to prohibit concealed carry if they wish, though it’s interesting to me that he hasn’t given specific instructions on how to legally do so. Under the New Jersey law that’s currently being challenged, the default setting for all private property in the state is “no guns allowed,” and property owners are supposed to post signs specifically allowing concealed carry if they want it. But with a TRO in effect halting enforcement of that provision, how exactly are restaurants and sports bars supposed to alert patrons to the fact that they’re a “gun-free zone”?
In his tweet, the AG declared that restaurants can post signs “in and around” their establishment, but that seems awfully vague. How big do the signs have to be? Is a Post-It note near the front door enough signage that concealed carry holders should be aware of the restaurant’s policy? Platkin says that bars and restaurant owners have been left confused by the Bruen decision and the TRO, but I don’t think he’s done much to clarify things as much as he’s simply reminded New Jersey gun owners how hostile their elected officials are to the exercise of a fundamental civil right.
So, if you’re headed out to a New Jersey dining establishment to take in the Giants-Eagles game on Saturday evening, save yourself some grief and pay very close attention to any signs at the door. I’d hate to see anyone fumble away their freedom because they were unaware their favorite sports bar is following Platkin’s bad and unnecessary advice.