Today, Bush-appointed Judge Renee Marie Bumb issued a Temporary Restraining Order(TRO) against newly enacted legislation which effectively nullifies the right to carry handguns for self-defense in the state of NJ. The highly-debated Carry Killer bill, A4769/S3214, was signed into law on December 22 by Governor Murphy. The majority of provisions in the bill went into effect immediately, while some provisions, such as the requirement that handgun carriers obtain liability insurance, go into effect some time in the middle of 2023.
The TRO prohibits the state of New Jersey from enforcing Section 7(a), subparts 12, 15, 17, and 24, and Subsection 7(b)(1) of the new law.
Here are the actual provisions, defining certain off-limits “sensitive places”, which have been put on hold:
- 7(a)(12) – a publicly owned or leased library or museum;
- 7(a)(15) – a bar or restaurant where alcohol is served, and any other site or facility where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises;
- 7(a)(17) – a privately or publicly owned and operated entertainment facility within this State, including but not limited to a theater, stadium, museum, arena, racetrack or other place where performances, concerts, exhibits, games or contests are held;
- 7(a)(24) – private property, including but not limited to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional or undeveloped property, unless the owner has provided express consent or has posted a sign indicating that it is permissible to carry on the premises a concealed handgun with a valid and lawfully issued permit under N.J.S.2C:58-4, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to affect the authority to keep or carry a firearm established under subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-6;
- 7(b)(1) – A person, other than a person lawfully carrying a firearm within the authorized scope of an exemption set forth in subsection a., c., or l. of N.J.S.2C:39-6, who is otherwise authorized under the law to carry or transport a firearm shall not do so while in a vehicle in New Jersey, unless the handgun is unloaded and contained in a closed and securely fastened case, gunbox, or locked unloaded in the trunk of the vehicle.
Where can we carry now? Don’t tell Joe Danielsen, but holders of a valid New Jersey permit to carry a handgun may resume or begin carrying their loaded, defensive handguns in all of the places listed above. The prohibitions against carrying in one’s private vehicle, carrying on any/all private property, carrying in restaurants/bars that serve alcohol, stadiums, concert halls, arenas, racetracks, are all on hold. The state may not enforce these provisions of the new law.
The so-called Carry Killer bill was proposed in response to the NYSRPA v. Bruen Supreme Court case that struck down New York’s subjective “good cause” requirement. New Jersey had a very similar, and nearly impossible to satisfy, “justifiable need” requirement. As a result, New Jersey became a “shall issue” state with regard to issuing permits to carry handguns. Complying with the Supreme Court’s ruling, Attorney General Matt Platkin immediately issued a directive striking down the justifiable need requirement statewide. The state began issuing permits to carry handguns shortly after.
The anti-gun Democrat supermajority in Trenton had other plans. They immediately began work to undermine the ruling in the Bruen case by changing what it means to have a permit to carry a handgun. Their scheme would be to issue the permits, in compliance with the ruling, but declare the entire state of New Jersey as a “sensitive place”, off-limits to firearm possession even by those who possess a valid permit to carry a handgun.
On December 22, 2022, within minutes of the legislation being signed into law, multiple pro-gun groups filed lawsuits challenging these provisions in federal court. One such lawsuit was brought by multiple pro-2A organizations including the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners (CNJFO), and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS). This case, known as Koons v. Reynolds, did not challenge all provisions of the new law. Rather, it went for some of the most egregious constitutional violations in an effort to secure quick relief for those seeking to exercise their rights.
A TRO is usually granted when the judge in the case feels that the plaintiff has a greater than 50% chance of succeeding in the case. However, a TRO is only temporary until the case can be heard in full. There is also the possibility that the judge can issue a preliminary injunction or a permanent injunction against the challenged provisions of the law. There is also a possibility that the judge can rescind the TRO if the state can actually meet their burden and prove that these restrictions actually have historical standing. However, that is highly doubtful.
Stay tuned for further updates as this case progresses.