State appeals federal ruling blocking enforcement of new gun law
Last week's federal ruling "prevents the state from enforcing its democratically-enacted laws," Attorney General Matt Platkin says in a new brief. (Aristide Economopoulos for New Jersey Monitor)
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin is seeking expedited appeal of a federal judge’s recent order suspending enforcement of most of the state’s new gun law.
Platkin on Monday requested a stay of the preliminary injunction U.S. District Court Judge Renée Marie Bumb issued last week blocking much of the law, which bans guns in about 25 “sensitive places,” requires gun owners to carry liability insurance, raises permit fees, and establishes other restrictions on gun carry statewide.
Platkin’s most recent motion, filed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, focuses on the sensitive place part of Bumb’s ruling. He said a stay is “urgently needed.”
“The preliminary injunction prevents the state from enforcing its democratically-enacted laws. It bars the state from protecting residents and law enforcement from gun violence in sensitive places. It empowers individuals to carry firearms onto their neighbors’ porches and into local businesses without seeking the owners’ consent. And it risks significant confusion on the ground,” Platkin wrote.
When federal courts in New York issued near-identical preliminary injunctions against near-identical provisions, Platkin added, the Second Circuit issued stays pending appeal.
Bumb “erred” in much of her ruling, Platkin wrote in the motion.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June that struck down concealed carry restrictions required courts to consider historical precedent when weighing new restrictions states sought to impose after the ruling, which was known as Bruen.
While Bumb specifically scolded New Jersey attorneys for not offering up enough historical evidence to defend the new law, Platkin insists they did.
“The preliminary injunction incorrectly bars the state from restricting carry in many sensitive places — including zoos and libraries, public gatherings and parks, and even bars,” he wrote. “But the state offered reams of evidence that governments at both the Founding and Reconstruction limited carry in identical or similar locations, from fairs and ballrooms, to educational institutions, to parks and zoos.”
Platkin also challenged Bumb’s determination that people have a Second Amendment right to carry guns on private property if that property is open to the public, such as a store or gym, and the owner doesn’t expressly forbid weapons.
And he said the series of decisions Bumb has issued on the gun law has created a “piecemeal judicial alteration of the status quo.”
“The injunction creates confusion for both the general public and law enforcement, as the district court issued three different opinions addressing different sensitive places, sometimes expanding and sometimes contracting the list,” he wrote.
Scott Bach is executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, one of the plaintiffs challenging the new law. He called Platkin’s motion “a face-saving move out of desperation because they’ve had humiliating losses since January.”
“The state is entitled to waste as much taxpayer money as they like on temporary remedies to save face, but in the end, one way or another, sooner or later, this law goes into the history books as a failure,” Bach said.
In her ruling last week, Bumb chided New Jersey officials for a law that penalized “law-abiding citizens who have the constitutional right to armed self-defense.”
Platkin, in response, listed examples of mass shootings by legally armed gun owners and news media articles on gun owners exploiting gun law loopholes.
“Unfortunately, permitting is not a panacea: even among permit holders, the risk of gun violence, either intentional or accidental, remains ever-present,” Platkin wrote.
Platkin wrote that state attorneys plan to appeal Bumb’s preliminary injunction blocking the state’s requirement that gun owners get liability insurance to publicly carry — at an unspecified later date, because that requirement doesn’t take effect until July 1.
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