A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order against New Jersey’s new concealed-carry gun law, saying limiting guns in schools, restaurants and libraries presents “considerable constitutional problems.”
Monday’s ruling, which halts the implementation of the “sensitive places” aspect of the gun safety law, comes less than three weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the controversial firearm legislation.
This is the second lawsuit filed since Dec. 22 to challenge the gun law’s constitutionality. The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit last month.
New Jersey’s new gun law bans firearms from a number of locations that, in addition to schools, restaurants and libraries, includes courthouses, nursing homes, hospitals, parks, movie theaters, casinos, beaches and zoos.
Permitted gun carriers would also have to get advanced permission before carrying a gun onto private property and would have to unload any firearms kept in their vehicle.
“The Court finds that the challenged provisions have chilled Plaintiffs’ reasonable exercise of their Second Amendment right,” Judge Renee Marie Bumb wrote in Monday’s decision. “The Court finds that Plaintiffs’ credible fear of prosecution for violating one of the challenged restrictions constitutes irreparable injury.”
Bumb, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, criticized state leaders in her 60-page decision writing that they “should have been better prepared to defend the legislation’s constitutionality.”
The three plaintiffs, who have concealed-carry permits, belong to The New Jersey Second Amendment Society, which announced the temporary restraining order ruling in a tweet Monday.
“Federal Judge Bumb granted our TRO to stop the enforcement of Governor Murphy’s unconstitutional law that banned the carry of a firearm for self defense where we would need it the most!” the organization wrote. “In simple terms, the so-called ‘sensitive areas’ section cannot be enforced.”
The plaintiffs include Ronald Koons, who is a retired U.S. Air Force member and a pastor. He said he can no longer carry his gun to church. The second plaintiff is Nicholas Gaudio, a systems engineer for Lockheed Martin who has a “top secret” security clearance, who said he can no longer carry a loaded weapon in his car. Jeffrey Muller is the third plaintiff, who received permission to carry a handgun after he was the victim of a mistaken-identity kidnapping in 2010.
“The deprivation of Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, as the holders of valid permits from the state to conceal carry handguns, constitutes irreparable injury, and neither the state nor the public has an interest in enforcing unconstitutional laws,” Bumb wrote.
“Accordingly good cause exists, and the Court will grant the motion for temporary restraints.”
New York state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, who supported the legislation, said challenges are expected and that the injunction is “the first step in what will be a lengthy legal process.”
“The Supreme Court has stated that the right to bear arms is not absolute, and that state legislatures can designate sensitive places where guns may be restricted,” Scutari said.
“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.”
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