Big win for gun owners as federal judge grants second TRO against New Jersey carry laws

Seth Perlman

U.S. District Judge Reneé Marie Bumb delivered a second win to New Jersey gun owners and Second Amendment activists challenging the state’s new carry restrictions on Monday, granting a temporary restraining order that halts enforcement of many of the state’s “sensitive places” where lawful concealed carry is considered a felony offense.


Bumb had already granted a TRO in Seigel v. Platkin, another challenge to several of the “gun-free zones” created by New Jersey lawmakers, but the federal court in Camden recently combined that case with Koons v. Platkin, giving Bumb the chance to take a look at some of the other “sensitive places” that were not a part of Seigel‘s initial complaint. On Monday, Bumb issued her ruling, finding mostly (but not entirely) in favor of the plaintiffs.

The judge concluded that the plaintiffs do not have standing at this time to challenge the “gun-free zones” in zoos, medical treatment facilities, movie sets, airports, and places covered by Fish and Game Department regulations, but are in a position to seek a restraining order against the following “sensitive places”:

  • public parks, beaches, recreational facilities, playgrounds
  • youth sports events
  • casinos
  • public libraries and museums
  • bars and restaurants where alcohol is served
  • entertainment facilities
  • private property unless indicated otherwise by owner
  • private vehicles

Of all those locations, the only ones that Bumb did not subject to the temporary restraining order are the prohibitions on concealed carry on playgrounds and at youth sporting events.

In Bruen and Heller, the Supreme Court expressly identified restrictions at certain sensitive places (such as schools) to be well-settled, even though the 18thand 19th-century evidence has revealed few categories in number. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. at 2133 (citing Heller, 554 U.S. at 626)). The inference, the Court suggested, is that some gun-free zones are simply obvious, undisputed, and uncontroversial. These are: (a) certain government buildings (such as legislative assemblies or courthouses or where the Government is acting within the heartland of its authority), (b) polling places, and (c) schools. Id.

Bruen further instructs courts to consider analogies to such sensitive places when considering whether the Government can meet its burden of showing that a given regulation is constitutionally permissible. Id. Here, Defendants subsume playgrounds within their discussion of historical statutes that regulate firearms where crowds gather and where the vulnerable or incapacitated are located. [See Defs.’ Opp’n at 34–35.] Unfortunately, Defendants neither point to a particular or analogous prohibition on carrying firearms at playgrounds nor provide a more meaningful analysis, despite this Court’s persistent invitation.

In particular, Defendants have done no analysis to answer the question Bruen leaves open: is it “settled” that this is a location where firearms-carrying could be prohibited consistent with the Second Amendment? Where the right to self-defense and sensitive place designations could be read in harmony under the Second Amendment? For that matter, nor have Plaintiffs. This issue must be explored at the preliminary injunction stage. Despite these shortcomings, the Court concludes that schools and playgrounds intersect, that is, playgrounds fall within the sphere of schools. Therefore, under Bruen, the Court “can assume it settled” that playgrounds are a “sensitive place.” See Bruen, 142 S.Ct. at 2133. Accordingly, because Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden as to their challenge to playgrounds in Subpart 10, the Motion will be denied as to playgrounds.


It’s entirely possible that even this “sensitive place” could fall once the case proceeds further, though Bumb seems more convinced that the prohibition on carrying at “youth sporting events” overlaps enough with “schools” that its probably okay to ban firearms there. I disagree, particularly given that many youth sporting events are run by leagues that aren’t school-affiliated at all, but the plaintiffs still have a chance to make their argument at future hearings over an injunction. But in the meantime Bumb has delivered a solid opinion in favor of the Second Amendment rights of all New Jersey residents by telling the state it can’t enforce its carry prohibitions in most of their “sensitive places”, at least in the near term.

This doesn’t mean, by the way, that all entertainment venues, casinos, and diners are going to be welcoming concealed carry holders. Private property owners can still ban concealed carry if they choose to do so, but under Bumb’s TRO the state’s presumption that all private property is off-limits unless otherwise noted is a non-starter. All in all this is very good news for New Jersey gun owners, and likely the first of many disappointments to come for civil rights abusers like Gov. Phil Murphy and his anti-2A ilk in the legislature.



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