A federal appeals court has reimposed New Jersey’s restrictive handgun carry law, banning carrying guns in so-called sensitive places like bars or libraries.
The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals sided with New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin when it voted 2-1 to allow most of the ban to take effect while litigation continues, according to a ruling (pdf). remove
“The Third Circuit correctly stayed the district court’s dangerous injunction that allowed individuals to carry weapons into places like parks and zoos, libraries and museums, bars and casinos, and permitted demonstrations,” Platkin said in a statement hailing the decision.
Prior to the appeals court’s decision, a district judge had blocked the ban, arguing that the prohibition violated Second Amendment rights.
The new ruling means that handguns are prohibited in several so-called “sensitive places,” including zoos, public parks, public libraries, museums, bars, and health care facilities.
However, the appeals court denied part of Platkin’s request, leaving in place a lower court’s order that put an insurance mandate on hold.
The concealed carry restriction also remains blocked for vehicles, private property, and public film locations.
Gun rights advocates expressed opposition to the appeals court’s ruling.
“The court’s decision only impacts carry rights for the duration of the state’s appeal and does not necessarily mean that the state’s appeal will ultimately be successful,” the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) said in a statement.
“Despite this new ruling, ANJRPC will continue to aggressively defend gun owners’ carry rights during every stage of this case,” it added.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who signed the restrictive law into effect several months ago, said he was pleased with the appeals court’s decision.
“I am thrilled that the Third Circuit has reinstated the vast majority of the law that I proudly signed last December to keep guns out of our most sensitive and vulnerable public places,” Murphy said in a statement.
‘Deprivation’ of Second Amendment Rights
New Jersey lawmakers first adopted the restrictive law in response to the surge in concealable gun sales in the state following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in the case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down restrictions on carrying guns outside the home in New York.
The Supreme Court’s decision struck down a New York state law requiring people to show proper cause to get a concealed carry license, with the ruling affecting states with similar laws, including New Jersey.
While introducing legislation that curtailed concealed carry rights (pdf) in New Jersey’s General Assembly in October 2022, Democrat Assemblyman Joe Danielsen said the measure struck an appropriate balance between public safety and gun rights.
“I’m a gun owner. I enjoy my guns often, but I enjoy the right to have those guns and to use them responsibly. This bill provides zero conflict,” Danielsen said at the time.
Murphy signed the law into effect in December 2022, drawing a critical reaction from the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA).
“This latest episode of political theatre is nothing more than disgruntled legislators thumbing their noses at the United States Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the right to concealed carry in this summer’s landmark Bruen decision,” the group said in a statement.
Murphy’s efforts to tighten gun laws were dealt a setback when U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, blocked the ban.
“The deprivation of Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment right, 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 said in an order (pdf) in January.
‘Gigantic, Bullseye Target’
Alex Roubian, president and managing editor of the New Jersey Second Amendment Societ, expressed support for Bumb’s ruling.
“We are happy that the judge saw through their nonsense and believes that citizens have the right to protect themselves, the same way those like Gov. Phil Murphy do,” Roubian told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview.
Roubian said that Murphy and the lawmakers that enacted the law enjoy round-the-clock armed security and are out of touch with the self-defense needs of ordinary citizens.
“Thankfully, the judge agrees with us, that we have a right to protect ourselves no matter where we go,” Roubian added.
Roubian said that identifying specific “sensitive places” where concealed carry is prohibited amounts to “literally putting a gigantic, bullseye target” on these areas and sends a message to criminals that people there are less likely to fight back.
The appeals court’s June 20 ruling means that carrying concealed firearms is banned within 100 feet of places where alcohol is served, casinos, entertainment facilities, libraries, museums, public gatherings, and zoos, among others.
Patricia Tolson contributed to this report.