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NJ Senator Proposes “Stand Your Ground” Law

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A carjacker carjacking a victim.

On April 15, a New Jersey Senator introduced a “Stand Your Ground” law in the New Jersey Senate which would remove the duty to retreat in the case of a justifiable use of deadly force.

Senate Bill S3099 is sponsored by Senator Douglas J. Steinhardt (District 23, Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties) and Senator Michael L. Testa, Jr. (District 1, Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties). It was co-sponsored by Senator Amato.

The proposed law is similar to that in many other states, allowing a person to use deadly force without retreating if they believe imminent death or bodily injury is about to occur, they are not committing a crime, and they have a right to be where they are.

A person is justified in using, or threatening to use, deadly force if the person reasonably believes that using or threatening to use deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the person or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime set forth in section 2 of P.L.1995, c.126 (C.2C:43-7.1). A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person is not engaged in the commission of a crime and is in a place where the person has a right to be. Notably the law also allows the threat of deadly force in such a scenario.

The bill also allows the use of deadly force in the prevention of certain crimes that include:

  • murder
  • aggravated manslaughter
  • manslaughter
  • kidnapping
  • aggravated sexual assault
  • robbery
  • carjacking
  • aggravated assault
  • burglary
  • unlawful possession of a weapon

Justia performed a 50-state survey of Stand Your Ground-type laws and wrote this summary about the current New Jersey law:

New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:3-4 describes situations in which the use of force is justifiable in self-protection. It provides that the use of deadly force is not justifiable if the person knows that they can avoid the necessity of using this force with complete safety by retreating, surrendering possession of a thing to a person asserting a claim of right to it, or complying with a demand that they abstain from an action that they have no duty to take. However, they are not obliged to retreat from their dwelling, unless they were the initial aggressor.

Although the bill is unlikely to pass either legislative bodies, and even less likely to be signed by governor Murphy, it’s a good sign to see New Jersey Republicans trying to normalize New Jersey’s self defense laws in alignment with the rest of the country.

New Jersey started issuing concealed carry permits for handguns in July of 2022.

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Stephen Brickman

i cant run faster than a bullet, so even if i can find a safe spot to run towards i can still be picked off.
No matter where i might be accosted the safest place is where I stand with a gun in my hand.

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

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