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"Concealed Chaos: Judge Halts New Jersey's Gun Restrictions"

#GunControl, #NewJerseyLaw, #SecondAmendment, #ConcealedCarry, #LegalFight

By MichaelMH Published Feb 04, 2023

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A federal judge in New Jersey has temporarily blocked a new state law that restricts the carrying of concealed firearms in "sensitive places." The law, signed by Governor Phil Murphy less than three weeks ago, prohibits the carrying of loaded guns in cars and limits the places where permit-holders can carry firearms to specific locations, including schools, courthouses, parks, beaches, and many others. In a 60-page decision, Judge Renee Marie Bumb, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a temporary restraining order against the state, stating that the restrictions present "considerable constitutional problems."

The ruling is the latest development in a legal fight sparked by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as the Bruen decision that invalidated New York's concealed carry law. New Jersey had previously implemented some of the country's most stringent carry restrictions, which made it nearly impossible for people other than retired law enforcement officials to legally carry handguns. The new legislation was fast-tracked by Murphy and lawmakers in an effort to comply with the Supreme Court ruling while preserving some of the state's tight restrictions.

The lawsuit was brought by three individuals, along with the gun rights groups they belong to, who already held concealed carry permits. They argued that the new law created a confusing set of regulations that would likely lead to law-abiding gun owners facing prosecution for violating the rules. The judge's decision temporarily blocks the state from enforcing certain provisions of the law, including the "sensitive places" restriction and restrictions on carrying firearms in cars and private property.

Gun-rights advocates hailed the decision, while New Jersey officials downplayed it as an expected obstacle in the state's efforts to curb gun violence. Alexander Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, one of the plaintiff groups, said the organization was "ecstatic that the judge firmly believes the Second Amendment doesn't include sensitive places and is universal across the country." A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office, representing the state in court, said the office was "disappointed by the Court's ruling, which is inconsistent with the Second Amendment and will make New Jerseyans considerably less safe." The spokeswoman added, "But this temporary order is just that: temporary. And we look forward to continuing to press our case, including ultimately on appeal."

Related: Allowing concealed carry gun law in New Jersey is common sense

Murphy's office expressed disappointment that the ruling was made by a right-wing federal judge, but stated that it was working with the Attorney General's Office to correct the decision and ensure that the law would be reinstated in its entirety. Senate President Nicholas Scutari, who supported the legislation, said in a statement that the injunction was "the first step in what will be a lengthy legal process." He added, "We remain confident that the law is constitutional. We will continue to support common sense gun safety measures to make our communities safer from gun violence."

The judge's decision suggests that Democratic leaders may have underestimated the legal hurdles the new law faced. Bumb wrote in the ruling, "Defendants must do more than promise they will justify the constitutional basis for its legislation later." The legal challenge to the law was expected, with gun-rights groups promising to sue as soon as the bill was signed into law. New York's clean-up bill in response to the Supreme Court decision remains stuck in legal limbo after a federal judge ruled in November that provisions similar to those in New Jersey's law were unconstitutional.

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In conclusion, the temporary restraining order against the new concealed carry law in New Jersey is a significant setback for the state and its efforts to curb gun violence. The decision suggests that the state may have underestimated the legal hurdles the law faced and the determination of gun-rights groups to challenge it. The case is likely to continue through the federal courts for several months.

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