The well-known New Jersey Second Amendment firm, Evan Nappen Attorney at Law, PC, recently scored a victory in the NJ appellate court, preventing forfeiture and seizure of guns legally possessed.
The lengthy case name, IMO the Appeal of the Denial of M.U.’s Application for a Handgun Purchase Permit & IMO the Revocation of M.U.’s Firearms Purchaser Identification Card and Compelling the Sale of HIs Firearms, was decided by Judges Geiger, Susswein and Berdote Byrne on March 21, 2023. (For the sake of convenience, we’ll refer to the case as M.U. hereafter).
The M.U. victory reversed and remanded a decision from the lower New Jersey Superior Court in 2021, where the court upheld the revocation of the appellant’s FPIC and compelled sale of his firearms. (The case was successfully argued and briefed by Louis Nappen, partner in the Nappen firm, and brother to Evan Nappen, author and host of the Gun Lawyer podcast.)
The M.U. case deals with those who have previously been issued permits to purchase firearms, and legally owned those firearms, and then had them seized during the course of applying for a duplicate Firearms Identification Card or Permit to Purchase a pistol. Specifically, the litigant in this case was issued a FPIC in 2017 and then in December 2019 he filed an application with the Oakland Police Department for an HPP. After an investigation, the department denied the application on the basis that it would be contrary to public health, safety, or welfare. According to the court decision, “The denial was based on appellant’s ‘multiple instances of negative police interactions, including the theft of a trailer and criminal mischief.’ “
This type of state-coerced forfeiture and seizure had started to become a somewhat common activity within the Bergen County prosecutor’s office, according to a summary posted on the Nappen website. In the M.U. case brought before the court, Nappen’s client was challenging a court order that compelled surrender and forfeiture, rather than the law actually governing New Jersey permitting and firearms ownership:
Appellant M.U. appeals from a Law Division order denying his application for a HPP, revoking his FPIC, requiring him to immediately surrender his firearms to police, authorizing police to seize his firearms, and directing that his firearms be destroyed unless he arranged for a licensed firearms dealer to purchase the firearms within 120 days.
In particular, New Jersey seemed to be leaning heavily upon the “restriction upon firearm acquisition in the interest of the “public health, safety or welfare” argument. The state attempted to use evidence of the appellant’s behavior in 2012 as a reason to deny his Second Amendment rights, even though the appellant had previously been issued a permit and legally owned his firearms. In particular, the State tried to characterize the appellant’s conduct as evidencing a “disregard for the law, poor judgment, and poor character.”
All such subjective standards were struck down by the Supreme Court Bruen decision last year.
In a statement on his website, Nappen wrote, “I am extremely pleased to have put an end to these unlawful forfeitures in New Jersey.”
The Nappen firm has been one of New Jersey’s most effective and visible Second Amendment advocates, along with being an expert in the State’s complex and archaic firearms codes that often “make criminals out of law-abiding people”, a statement Evan Nappen uses to sign off on his popular weekly podcast.