In Brief

Gun rights advocates ask judges to uphold ruling in fight over gun law

By: - May 31, 2023 3:49 pm

A sign warns shoppers at the Whole Foods Market in Princeton not to bring guns inside the store. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

Attorneys for Second Amendment advocates fighting New Jersey’s new gun law are urging a federal appeals court to uphold a recent ruling blocking most of the law from taking effect.

State attorneys failed to prove anyone would be irreparably harmed by U.S. District Court Judge Renée Marie Bumb’s order earlier this month affirming people’s right to carry guns in many places state lawmakers banned them, the lawyers wrote in two briefs filed Tuesday in response to the state attorney general’s appeal of Bumb’s order.

Attorneys representing New Jersey gun owners Ronald Koons and Aaron Siegel filed separate challenges the day Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law in December. The cases were later consolidated.

In two briefs totaling almost 60 pages, the attorneys repeatedly refer to Bruen, the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down restrictions on gun carry, as a reason why the state’s bid to halt Bumb’s preliminary injunction is “flawed from start to finish,” as Siegel’s attorneys put it.

“Governments may bar the carrying of firearms in only ‘exceptional circumstances,’” Koons’ attorneys noted, citing Bruen. “The exception cannot become the rule.”

In defending lawmakers’ decision to ban guns in about 25 “sensitive places,” the state failed to prove such prohibitions are “historically justified,” as Bruen requires, Koons’ attorneys added.

“The state is left with speculative public-safety and public-confusion arguments,” they wrote.

But any ruling further altering the status quo would just add to public confusion, they added.

Both briefs take aim at the new law’s “anti-carry default,” in which lawmakers banned guns on government and private property that is open to the public, such as stores, and guns loaded and within reach in vehicles. Private property owners have the right to forbid guns on their property, but the government can’t make that decision for them, the attorneys argue. Bumb had enjoined both the private property and vehicle restrictions.

“To the extent there is any ambiguity, it must be interpreted in favor of the Second Amendment,” Koons’ attorneys wrote.

A spokeswoman from the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.

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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.