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Massive Lawsuit Filed Against New Jersey Gun Restrictions

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Two MMA fighters, one getting kicked in the face.

On Tuesday, June 18, the Coalition of New Jersey Firearms Owners(CNJFO), Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, along with private plaintiff Christian Benton, filed what will likely be one of the most important Second Amendment lawsuits brought against the state in decades. The case is known as Benton v. Platkin.

The suit was filed in the United States District Court in the District of New Jersey against New Jersey Attorney General, Matthew Platkin, and Phil Olivo, Chief of the Pennsauken Police Department.

The suit challenges many prohibitions, license and permit schemes, exorbitant fees and waiting periods that New Jersey gun owners have faced for decades, making New Jersey one of the hardest states in which to exercise Second Amendment rights.

What is interesting about the suit is that a lot of the research and arguments were made by a private citizen, Jay Factor, who is known in Second Amendment circles as a knowledgeable historian on gun law, and with specialized knowledge of New Jersey.

The suit challenges the State’s firearms permitting scheme and related laws, focusing on the state’s tough and unconstitutional limits on:

  • Different permit types for handguns and long guns
  • The many and high fees associated with permitting (noting further the Governor’s plan to increase these fees)
  • The time delays in issuing and short expiry dates of permits
  • The “one gun a month” limitation

The suit notes that New Jersey’s laws are outliers among the 50 states, adding, “In other words, to exercise a right that belongs to “all Americans” and that the states “shall not … infringe,” New Jerseyans must submit to at least three separate background checks and obtain three separate government permission slips to “keep” and “bear” arms: permission to purchase, permission to take possession, and permission to carry. New Jersey treats no other right in this way.”

The suit says that New Jersey’s laws violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.

The New Jersey lawsuit builds on the pro-Second Amendment arguments in four major cases heard before the Supreme Court, including McDonald v. City of Chicago, Heller, Caetano v. Massachusetts, and the 2022 Bruen decision.

New Jersey’s anti-civil liberty laws often use the argument of “public safety,” especially those laws about firearms, and the suit takes direct aim at this position:

“In other words, according to the Second Amendment’s text, and as explained by the Court in Bruen, if a member of “the people” wishes to “keep” or “bear” a protected “arm,” then the ability to do so “shall not be infringed.” It does not matter at all how important, significant, compelling, or overriding the government’s reason for or interest in infringing the right. Nor does it matter whether a government restriction “minimally” versus “severely” burdens (infringes) the Second Amendment. There are no relevant statistical studies to be consulted. There are no sociological arguments to be considered. The problems of crime or the density of population do not affect the equation. The only appropriate inquiry then, according to Bruen, is what the “public understanding of the right to keep and bear arms” was during the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791.”

The suit also points out the often-overlooked fact that “…the Third Circuit held that 1791 alone is the proper time period of review.” This is significant because New Jersey belongs to the Third Circuit which is likely to hear the inevitable appeal to any outcome in the first round of the case.

New Jersey gun owners and Second Amendment enthusiasts will enjoy the strong language and direct approach used in the complaint:

Because New Jersey law operates to entirely deprive “the people” of their Second Amendment rights for long periods of time, this Court’s intervention is necessary to make it clear to New Jersey that it is not free to ignore the text of the Second Amendment or the opinions of the Supreme Court, and that the Second Amendment is neither a “constitutional orphan” nor a “second-class right.”

Another argument addresses New Jersey’s complete prohibition on firearms that allows ownership only through exemption, effectively nullifying the basic premise of our legal system, which presumes innocence rather than guilt:

Indeed, New Jersey has flipped Bruen’s Second Amendment textual presumption of constitutional protection on its head, establishing a contrary presumption of guilt – such that, when a person possesses a firearm for which a permit is required (as is the case in most contexts), that person is presumed not to have the permit – and to have committed a crime – until they prove otherwise.

We will be reporting in depth on this suit going forward, including interviews with the Plaintiffs. In the meantime, if you have been following our reporting, New Jersey residents would be well-advised to become members of the Second Amendment rights groups in this suit, as any relief could possibly be strictly applied to members of those groups.

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Dave "Rosey" Rosenthal

Thanks for the coverage, we really appreciate it! To JOIN OR RENEW your membership with the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners (CNJFO), please visit: https://www.cnjfo.com/join-us .

To DONATE TO THE LAWSUIT FUND, please visit: https://www.cnjfo.com/page-18138

LET’S KICK SOME TRENTON ASS!

Rosey

Anonymous

You’ve highlighted my favorite paragraph from the complaint… “In other words, according to the Second Amendment’s text, and as explained by the Court in Bruen, if a member of “the people” wishes to “keep” or “bear” a protected “arm,” then the ability to do so “shall not be infringed.” It does not matter at all how important, significant, compelling, or overriding the government’s reason for or interest in infringing the right. Nor does it matter whether a government restriction “minimally” versus “severely” burdens (infringes) the Second Amendment. There are no relevant statistical studies to be consulted. There are no sociological… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Anonymous

Siegel/Koons v. Platkin
Oral arguments heard Oct 25
Awaiting opinion from 3rd Circuit of Appeals

You can carry in your car on your motorcycle on private property* at airports* at church in some restaurants* at filming locations
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