Activist seek to block more of New Jersey's carry law

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It’s not surprising that New Jersey sought to pass the most restrictive concealed carry law they could in the aftermath of the Bruen decision. Nothing about that is particularly shocking. It’s a little surprising that they could read Bruen and think they could get away with as much as they apparently did, but not that they’d pass a new law.


Unsurprisingly, though, they did and it’s absolutely terrible.

Activists have been fighting it since its passage, and earlier this week, they were asking a federal judge to put a halt to more of this terrible law.

A federal judge heard arguments Thursday morning on whether to approve a new set of temporary restrictions to a recently enacted New Jersey gun control law but declined to issue an immediate ruling.

Gun rights advocates have sued New Jersey over the law, charging its prohibitions on guns in so-called sensitive places run afoul of constitutional protections and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. The high court’s ruling upended New Jersey’s prior gun laws but allowed authorities to limit the presence of guns in some unspecified areas.

Arguments on Thursday focused on whether Judge Renée Marie Bumb should temporarily enjoin provisions that bar guns in health care facilities, on film shoots, at zoos, and in a host of other places not covered by a restraining order Bumb issued in a separate but related case on Jan 9. The two cases have since been consolidated.

Daniel Schmutter, an attorney for Aaron Siegel and other plaintiffs who launched the broader of the two challenges to the law, argued that state prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons in parking lots of the sensitive places named in the bill would thrust gun owners into a state of uncertainty because it is unclear how that provision applies to shared parking lots.

Schmutter raised a similar issue about multi-use buildings. It is unclear to gun owners whether they can carry a firearm into a building that houses both a doctor’s office and a business where concealed carry is not barred by law, he argued.

The law should say “it’s just a doctor’s office, no other part of the building is prohibited, and if it’s a shared parking lot, the parking lot’s not prohibited,” Schmutter said.


The thing is, though, that ambiguity is likely a feature, not a bug.

The state of New Jersey really doesn’t want anyone carrying a firearm as a general rule. They had a “good cause” requirement before and that kept the total number low, only those who could convince a public official that they were at risk of being attacked.

So the idea of restricting things so you can’t lawfully carry guns in as many places as possible is, if not by design, a beloved side effect of the law.

Not that it’ll matter all that much to the courts. After all, Bruen does permit some degree of declaring some areas “sensitive places,” but with an admonition not to get carried away with declaring places as such. New Jersey has and it’s unlikely that many of those “sensitive places” will be considered such afterward.

But let’s also remember that New Jersey will then just make the most restrictive measure they think they can get away with yet again. Then it’s just rinse and repeat for the challenges.


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