Monday, October 2, 2023

N.J. Governor Expresses Outrage Over Opposition to ‘Sensitive Locations’ Legislation

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has vocally criticized a recent legal filing by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. This filing challenges the state’s 2022 law, referred to as the “carry-killer” Bruen response law, which significantly restricts New Jersey residents' rights under the Second Amendment. The law is currently under legal scrutiny and faces potential overturning.

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A notable part of this law is the introduction of “sensitive places,” where carrying firearms is expressly forbidden. Many argue that New Jersey has overly exceeded the limitations set by the high court in the NYSRPA v. Bruen ruling, making the law a likely candidate for nullification.

Governor Murphy, visibly upset, lambasted what he described as the “gun lobby.” He alleged that such groups are advocating for an increase in firearms presence in areas populated by children, such as playgrounds, and stated that the timing of the legal challenge coincides with the resumption of school sessions.

Murphy went on to label the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs as a symbol of greed and extremism, despite the organization being comprised of law-abiding citizens and Second Amendment advocates. Murphy continues to affirm his commitment to maintaining strict gun control laws and protecting the public from gun violence, touting his state’s policies as a national benchmark.

However, there's skepticism surrounding Murphy's confidence. Despite the Third Circuit sustaining parts of the law temporarily, substantial challenges remain, given the precedence set by Federal District Court Judge Bumb. Some argue that the quick, possibly politically motivated, response from the state to retain the law has only spotlighted its potential unconstitutionality.

The specific “sensitive locations” designated by Murphy, including parks and forests, have sparked contention, particularly with imposed limitations on car carry and requirements for permissions on private properties open to the public. Despite Murphy's insistence, the enforcement of prohibitions in such locations and the obligatory acquisition of non-existent insurance policies for permit holders are currently contested, with uncertainties looming over the trial’s outcome.

The discrepancies between the Bruen opinion and Murphy's restrictions are evident, as highlighted by attorney Daniel Schmutter. He noted that the historical definition of “sensitive places” typically refers to legislatures, courthouses, and polling places, challenging New Jersey’s broad application of the term.

The distress in Murphy's administration is palpable, as the law teeters on the brink of annulment. High-profile attorneys like Paul Clement, known for his success in challenging may-issue permitting in the Supreme Court, are at the forefront of the battle against what are deemed as prejudiced and unconstitutional Bruen response laws. Consequently, Murphy has resorted to vehemently criticizing the plaintiffs and their intentions.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is set to host oral arguments regarding the stay and preliminary injunction requests on October 25. With the expedited progression of this case, a conclusive decision might emerge by the close of the year. The unfolding developments warrant close attention.

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