It’s been one year since the landmark Bruen Supreme Court decision, which among other things, affirms an individual’s “right to keep and bear arms” for lawful purposes of self-defense exists outside the home, in public. With more than half of the country embracing Constitutional Carry, we now have 50-state shall-issue permitting.
While one might think that such a precedent would broadly expand civil liberties for the masses, the exact opposite has happened. Throughout the country, liberal states have thrown tantrums and passed knee-jerk Bruen-response bills that are remarkable in their outright defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision.
These laws, which are wholly unconstitutional and attempt to further restrain, oppress and limit the expression of Second Amendment rights, usually have two things in common. They impose extreme limits on the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase, own and carry firearms for self-defense and they fail to address criminal behavior for those that would never follow these laws in the first place.
Two of the most extreme Bruen response bills came out of the Northeast. Last year, New York passed the so-called “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” in July. New Jersey quickly followed suit with its own version, in December, which has become known colloquially as the “carry-killer” law. Oregon, Washington, Illinois and other states have also passed legislation that bans commonly-owned firearms and standard capacity magazines. Even the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has gotten into the mix by writing a rule that bans pistol braces, a popular accessory for AR-style pistols that helps shooters to be safer and more accurate.
New Jersey has been in the national spotlight as it represents a very special case. For many years, the State had a permitting scheme that effectively only issued to those in influential positions (judges, prosecutors, ex-police officers and the politically connected), yet with very few restrictions on where a fire arm could be carried. Post-Bruen, the state enacted a permitting system that created an arduous, paperwork-intensive, expensive process, but did indeed yield permits that allowed citizens to carry virtually unrestricted throughout the state. That freedom could not, of course, endure.
In the months that followed, using a witless “pro gun” Assemblyman as their water carrier, the State legislature conjured up a bill in response to Bruen known as A4769. It set arbitrary, subjective standards as to who could be issued a Permit to Carry (PTC). It classified nearly all of the state (including public and private property) as “sensitive areas” off limits to carry, and required insurance to exercise the right of self defense, among many other affronts to liberty and common sense. It even required that a permit holder must unload and lock their defensive firearm in the trunk while driving from point A to point B or be charged as a felon. No concealed firearms in one’s own vehicle.
In public assembly sessions, the bill was hashed out with various groups testifying for and against. The outcry on the left asserted that the state would be awash in gun violence, with daily shootings and stray bullets flying everywhere. To have heard the testimony, one would assume that New Jersey would shortly turn into a scene from Mad Max. Despite its blatant unconstitutionality, the bill was passed to much fanfare in the name of “public safety”.
In a public victory lap, Governor Murphy touted how this law would keep New Jerseyans “safer”.
Today’s bill signing is the culmination of months of negotiations between this Administration and our partners in the Legislature, delivering on the promise I made this summer to keep New Jersey safe in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s awful decision.
While I strongly disagree with that decision, we must abide by it, and today’s law fully respects the Second Amendment while keeping guns out of the wrong hands and preventing them from proliferating in our communities. I am proud to sign this commonsense legislation which prohibits carrying guns in sensitive places, including our daycares, hospitals, libraries, and stadiums.
Ironically, neither the governor nor any of the state legislators who sponsored and supported the bill could ever explain why they needed to restrict the rights of those whom they had just so thoroughly vetted by their very own standards. In fact, Joe Danielson, the aforementioned plebe who sponsored the bill, famously bragged about how it wouldn’t stop criminals:
The last thing I want to say to people, and some of my own Democrats have committed to me, and commented that to me, this does nothing [to] stop the illegal gun trade, or the illegal criminal, illegal possessions, or criminal content and…you’re right. This doesn’t. It was never supposed to address that.
This is addressing the legal, law abiding, responsible citizens. That’s what it’s designed to do.
Fast forward to nearly a year later and there are an estimated 30,000 PTC holders across the state who have been vetted at the very highest level (close to that of law enforcement), including background checks, mental health checks, required references, live fire qualifications and substantial economic investment.
To date, we are not aware of ONE single instance of a lawful PTC holder using his or her firearm in legitimate self defense, nor of any charges or criminal conduct by the same. Go figure — law abiding citizens tend to abide by laws.
The New Jersey story is not exactly unique as, across the nation, states with concealed carry freedoms generally see violent crime decrease. But that hasn’t stopped the anti-gun, anti-freedom left from continuing to attack Second Amendment rights with a barrage of very, very bad laws aimed at banning gun ownership.
Across the nation, every single one of these laws has been challenged in high-profile court cases brought on by Second Amendment rights groups like the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners (CNJFO), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Gun Owners of America (GOA), and others.
Simultaneously, leftist states that purport to be tough on gun crime are actively and purposefully relaxing their policies on prosecuting real criminal activity. For example, the New Jersey Attorney General says he’s tough on gun crime, but recently dropped all gun-related charges in a high-profile murder case and reduced the mandatory sentence with possibility for parole.
New York’s no cash bail law has dramatically contributed to the increase in crime and effectively created a revolving door in the justice system for career criminals. Earlier this year, a California prosecutor shamefully decided not to bring the strongest charges possible against three men responsible for killing a 5-year-old Santa Clara girl in a gang-related freeway shooting.
Across the country we find ourselves in a rapidly evolving and ever more dangerous state of affairs. Our state and federal governments are simultaneously attempting to disarm law-abiding citizens and let the criminal element operate freely. And while a Supreme Court decision like Bruen should be opening the floodgates for the law-abiding to exercise their Second Amendment rights, our politicians are caving to international pressures to eviscerate it.
It appears that the long game of the left is to throw bad legislation at the wall, see what sticks, and then engage in extended legal battles that will no doubt require years to resolve with the hope that current Justices can be replaced with new, Biden-appointed activist judges that will further undermine the Constitution.
There is hope. Not only is Bruen a strong, well reasoned precedent that will ultimately nullify these unconstitutional laws, but it also sits atop a heavy body of prior Second Amendment rulings, such as Heller and MacDonald, that further affirm these rights (see our article on these here). Also, the American public is being galvanized by these tyrannical overreaches of government. There are more guns and more lawful gun owners in this country than ever before, and their collective activism and pressure are having an impact.
To ensure that we can enjoy this and our other rights for generations to come, we highly encourage our readers to join and financially support the many groups that we link to on this page. These are the groups that are effectively fighting for your rights, and already winning victories in court.
As we look back at one year since the Bruen decision, we acknowledge that it’s an uphill battle in our current climate and culture, but it’s one that is absolutely worth every bit of effort.
Happy birthday Justice Clarence Thomas!