NJ Judge Figures Movie Theater Security Guards Don't Need Guns

It wasn’t all that long ago that a deranged individual who thought a Batman villain was a healthy role model shot up a Colorado movie theater. We all remember hearing about the attack, an attack that marred the release of Christopher Nolan’s second Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

That shooting also kicked off a round of demands for gun control. Those calls were partially answered in Colorado.

However, it seems that despite the horrors of that event, some in New Jersey don’t see any reason why security guards for theaters need guns.

A security guard at a local movie theater applied for a carry permit, which was approved by the borough police chief. A Superior Court judge sitting in Elizabeth, however, denied Calvin Carlstrom’s application in February — a decision that was upheld Monday by an appellate court panel.

Carlstrom worked as a security guard at an AMC theater and applied for the permit to carry a gun in June 2016. He listed his occupation as a security guard for Global Security Services.

He submitted several endorsements, certificates for firearms trainings and a letter from Global Security’s director of operations that noted his job duties would include “protection of life, as well as cash transfers in the theaters.” The letter from John DeVino also noted that “large amounts of cash” are moved across the theater, and that theaters have been identified as “soft targets” for terrorists by the Department of Homeland Security.

Carlstrom’s application was approved by the Roselle Park police chief in October 2016, but Judge William A. Daniel denied the application without a hearing. In his denial, the judge noted that Carlstrom did not establish “justifiable need” to carry a gun.

“Applicant failed to establish that he, in the course of his described employment, will be subjected to a substantial threat of serious bodily harm and that carrying a handgun is necessary to reduce the threat of unjustifiable serious harm to any person,” the judge’s decision said.

Then, on Monday, an appellate panel upheld the ruling.

Look, I’m vehemently opposed to having to beg permission and show a justifiable need to carry a firearm, but there are a few people who clearly have that need. Law enforcement, obviously, qualifies, but so do many security guards. Especially in places like movie theaters that have been the subject of attacks before and probably will be again.

But this is New Jersey.

Let’s be frank here. If a security guard who deals with protecting large cash transfers supposedly lacks a “justifiable need” to carry a gun, the rank and file individual is slap out of luck. There’s absolutely no way you’re getting a permit unless you have a documented death threat against you.

Even then, though, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

This really highlights the problems you see with states that have added a “need” component to its carry process. It becomes harder and harder to demonstrate a need in the minds of people who are generally well protected themselves. They can’t fathom why you would need to protect your life in an instant, so they assume the police will do so.

I’ve had several readers from New Jersey reach out to me to tell me how difficult it is to get a carry permit, and honestly, it makes it so the state might as well not even have a permitting process. After all, I find remarkably few people who have one.

Even a security guard who sounds like someone who could make use of one to better protect the lives of others in a place that would make a tempting target for a mass shooter or terrorist.