Guns banned — again — in certain sensitive places under new federal court order

Governor calls latest order ‘a crucial victory’ in challenge to state’s new gun carry restrictions

By: - June 21, 2023 9:15 am

A sign outside Willowbrook Mall warns customers not to bring guns inside the mall. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

Guns are again prohibited in bars, beaches, parks, casinos, and several other “sensitive places” where state lawmakers last year banned them, under the latest court order in the state’s ongoing battle to preserve restrictions that gun-rights advocates have fought since they were enacted in December.

In a terse order issued late Tuesday, a three-judge federal appeals panel paused a preliminary injunction U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb issued in May that suspended most of the state’s new gun law. The order granted Attorney General Matt Platkin’s request to let authorities enforce contested parts of the law until the court challenge is resolved.

Even that order shows how contentious the fight over the new law has been, with one of the three judges — Trump appointee David J. Porter — dissenting from the stay.

U.S. Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause, an Obama appointee, wrote the two-page order, issuing a stay that essentially reinstates the ban on guns in eight sensitive places firearm advocates had challenged:

  • Public protests and other gatherings that require government permits.
  • Preschools, summer camps, and zoos.
  • Beaches, parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas.
  • Public libraries and museums.
  • Bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.
  • Theaters, arenas, racetracks, and other entertainment facilities.
  • Casinos.
  • Hospitals and health care facilities.

Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated the order, calling it a “crucial victory.”

“This decision will make New Jersey a safer state for all of us and will ensure that New Jersey continues to have among the lowest rates of gun violence in the nation,” Murphy said in a statement.

Platkin also applauded the appellate stay of Bumb’s “dangerous injunction.”

“We are extremely gratified that the Third Circuit recognized what we have always said: New Jersey is likely to win this case because our sensitive-places law complies with the Second Amendment,” Platkin said in a statement. “This is a tremendous win for public safety, and we will continue fighting for our law.”

The appeals panel did not stay the injunction in three contested sensitive places, which means people can carry their guns in vehicles, at public film locations, and on private property, unless the property owner forbids it.

Another part of the new law that Bumb enjoined — requiring gun owners to get liability insurance — remains blocked.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, one of the plaintiffs in the challenge, issued a statement Tuesday night saying they “will continue to aggressively defend gun owners’ carry rights during every stage of this case.”

Tuesday’s order was just the latest as the case, filed the same day Murphy signed the law, winds through the courts.

It came just three days before the one-year anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Bruen, which affirmed a constitutional right to carry and toppled restrictions in states like New Jersey that forbade gun owners from taking firearms outside their home or business without proving a justifiable need.

In her order, Krause set deadlines starting in July for both sides to file briefs, with a hearing expected in mid to late September.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.