The Judges Created an Unsafe Situation

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A photo depicting a gun in the trunk and a crime scene

Just the other day, the News2A Team reported on restricted carry permits. The fact of the matter is there are many in all three branches of New Jersey’s government that are not happy with being told the peasants shall have their pitchforks. Governor Phil Murphy is furious that the law-abiding tax-paying peon is allowed to legally protect themselves via firearm. The legislature, most likely from Murphy’s urging, created the “carry-killer” bill, which was passed and signed into law in December. And there have been judges from all different counties playing games with the issuance of permits. One of the more common – and egregious – restrictions we’ve seen is one concerning the transportation of a firearm and how an individual permit holder shall keep their arm when in a vehicle.

None of this is to be considered legal advice, and the seeking of one’s own representation is urged to get answers to any questions concerning firearm law.

To summarize past reporting, some carry permits have associated court orders. Some are restricted by what firearm an individual may carry, along with transportation restrictions. All of these limitations can only be placed on the court-issued permits. Since the passage of the carry-killer law, permits are now being issued exclusively by local police departments or state police barracks in unincorporated areas. The few that were remaining in limbo at the time of the law passage, were to be court-issued. The only way to handle the restrictions is to re-apply for a permit to carry through your local jurisdiction/state police barracks, request the court to remove the restriction(s), or just wait it out until you renew your permit to have the restrictions removed.

The transportation restriction that many are seeing comes from a few select counties. The thing is, in their attempts to either make carry onerous, or if the judges actually fundamentally believe they’re “doing the right thing,” they’ve created a very dangerous situation. Some permits have the following as an included restriction: “shall comply with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(g).”

That statute reads:

Any weapon being transported under paragraph (2) of subsection b., subsection e., or paragraph (1) or (3) of subsection f. of this section shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel shall include only deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.

The issue with this section of the law is that it pertains to transport under exemption of the law. The exemption applies to those that are not in possession of a New Jersey permit to carry. In essence, it does not make sense, but since it’s on permits, an individual could be held in contempt of the court if they do not obey. Then we need to follow the order(s) to be in compliance.

What exactly is the judge saying? Any handgun being transported needs to be unloaded and cased in the same manner we would have before carry permits. The provision of the law also includes the “unnecessary deviations” clause, which in the past would keep firearm owners from deviating from their course of travel between the range and home, etc. The judges have created a quagmire of epic proportions, as we’re no longer bound by this section of law when in possession of a permit to carry, but they’re forcing us to obey anyhow.

The unsafe situation the court has created for people that attempt to follow the restrictions goes against any conventional teachings on the concept of carry. The court is telling a carrier that they’re to handle, load/unload, and holster/unholster their firearm between every course of travel. 

In a best case scenario, a person who has opted to carry a revolver might have the greatest chances of practicality here. A person carrying a semi-automatic needs to deeply consider the mechanics of loading and unloading their firearm several times a day if they’re going to be putting a round into battery between each stop.

A revolver carrier could easily remove their ammunition and set it separate from the firearm, then case the firearm. A person carrying a semi-automatic needs to decide if the constant barrage of rounds being loaded into the chamber of the pistol, interfacing with the feed ramp, is going to be a cost they’re willing to incur in the way of ammunition degrading due to bullet setback.

What is bullet setback? Bullet setback is a condition that occurs when the bullet of a cartridge is pushed further into the casing of the round and usually occurs from repeated loading of the round into the chamber of a pistol. In this situation, the volume of the casing is decreased, which creates an increase in pressure in the cartridge when fired. Those increased pressures can be devastating to the user/firearm if discharged.

So what’s the recourse for a person with such a restriction? Carry the fabled “paperweight” that all the loudmouths talk about? That is, a firearm that does not have one in the chamber is “as useless as a paperweight” according to all the internet tough guys out there. The “shall not be infringed” types that know better than everyone else. The 50 years behind the trigger know-it-alls.

Well, we’re confronted with a matter of practicality and whether or not carrying with a round in the chamber is going to work for any individual’s situation when inflicted with such restraints legally. No doubt, 100%, having a firearm with a round in the chamber is better than not having one in the chamber. But having a firearm that’s not fully loaded with one in the pipe is better than not having one at all. Can one rack that slide quickly enough if needed? We’ll let the gun philosophers discuss that to their own content. A concession is a concession and needs to be understood as such.

Regardless, take into account a normal day of running errands. The individual gets into their car, they then unholster their firearm, unload it, and place the pistol in a case. The car is started and off they go to the big box store or some other destination. Finding a suitable parking spot that’s a little secluded from the sensitive eyes of the public and over-caffeinated soccer moms itching to hurl mochachinos at people, the person will uncase their firearm, load it, and re-holster it. After finishing their shopping, the person returns to their car to unholster their gun, unload it, and re-stow it. The process is on “rinse and repeat” every stop along the individual’s day.

The judges have basically ordered people to break an important concept when it comes to concealed carry. In the state of New Jersey, as of now, the concealed part is important, as the legislature has outlawed open carry. The best advice when it comes to carry, once a person sets their firearm, holsters it, and finishes any adjustments, the gun is not supposed to be touched or fidgeted with in any manner. It’s supposed to be a set it and forget it type of thing. Instead, the judges are asking people to handle their firearms several times a day, which is a safety concern, as it could create a situation of complacency.

The courts that put these restrictions on permits to carry have mandated unsafe practices. Should some sort of an accident or mishap occur from this ridiculous policy, who’s going to be held accountable? Are the judges to be held liable for any damages because they decided to legislate from the bench?

The other crucial thing, as of the publication of this piece, New Jersey law actually does require us to transport our firearms in the described unloaded manner (and then some) due to the carry-killer law. That provision just happens to be on hold due to a temporary restraining order. At another judge’s whim, we could all find ourselves in a similar unsafe situation, without notice.

Regardless of how everything is going to flesh out with carry in New Jersey, persons inflicted with these restrictions are stuck and bound by them until they’re removed, or a permit gets reissued. Perhaps there will be a challenge somewhere at some point to the concept of restricted permits and a court will intervene, but until then, we’re stuck with them. Our friend attorney Evan Nappen explains some of the situation with restricted permits in detail towards the end of his most recent Gun Lawyer Podcast as well as in a past one. Both are worth a listen.

New Jersey gun law was complicated prior to carry being a reality, and now it’s more complicated. We’re not likely going to see a situation where the law gets easier to understand or follow anytime soon. However, litigation efforts challenging the carry-killer legislation will hopefully continue to bring the peasants of New Jersey some relief. The status of the litigation can be followed HERE and HERE.

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Siegel/Koons v. Platkin
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