In a new motion in the legal battle over gun reform legislation, the state has asked a federal judge to fast-track consideration of an appeal — and not to limit enforcement of restrictions on where concealed weapons can be carried in New Jersey.
“This appeal warrants expedited consideration because the preliminary injunction interferes with a critical public-safety tool adopted by the New Jersey Legislature,” a motion brought by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office says. “The injunction threatens public safety by allowing loaded guns in crowded theaters, bars, protests, and Fourth of July celebrations in parks, as well as zoos and libraries where children gather — just to name a few.”
Last week, U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb said the reforms signed into law last December by Gov. Phil Murphy — challenged almost immediately by gun rights advocates — are “aimed primarily — not at those who unlawfully possess firearms — but at law-abiding, responsible citizens.”
Bumb also said the law to limit where concealed weapons could be carried went “too far” and called the law “plainly unconstitutional.”
The ruling, issued by Bumb as a preliminary injunction in federal court in Camden, further limits the enforcement of the new law and the restrictions on where the concealed carrying of guns is allowed. The ruling did note that most of the permitting requirements are “consistent with the Second Amendment.”
The state filed an appeal within hours and said the “district court erred in preliminarily enjoining vast swaths of New Jersey’s sensitive-places and private-property provisions.”
Earlier:This new federal court ruling essentially halts NJ’s concealed weapons carry restrictions
Bumb issued the ruling in response to a lawsuit filed to stop the law from taking effect just days after it was signed. The law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in December, came in response to the United States Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. In that decision, the court struck down New York’s concealed carry law and, the judge said, “in doing so, acknowledged the unconstitutionality of analogous statutes in other states.”
The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs filed a lawsuit just hours after Murphy signed the legislation. A second suit was filed days later by Ronald Koons, Nicholas Gaudio and Jeffrey Muller, as well as the organizations of which they are members: the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition Inc., the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society. The two lawsuits have since been consolidated.
Earlier this year, Bumb ruled that the state cannot enforce its concealed carry gun restrictions at parks, beaches, recreation facilities, casinos, public libraries and museums, restaurants and bars that serve alcohol, and entertainment venues like stadiums and concert halls.
The gun ban at other places that had been challenged — including airports, medical facilities, playgrounds, youth sporting events and zoos — remained in effect because, the judge said, the plaintiffs have “not come forward with strong historical evidence” to support their claim that the ban should be overturned.
Bumb’s latest ruling also allows for concealed carry to be allowed at public gatherings, demonstrations and events that require a government permit and reverses the ban at zoos and medical facilities.
The ruling upholds the ban at playgrounds and youth sports events.
Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse.