How many parents want to pack heat when pushing their child on a swing?
That question is not as facetious as it seems.
The ongoing legal battle over firearms in New Jersey is now in the sandbox – quite literally.
A recent legal filing by gun-rights groups says individuals should be permitted to carry firearms in such locales as playgrounds, youth sporting events and medical offices.
Phil Murphy says he is “furious” at the suggestion.
This debate began with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year overturning gun laws in New York, which were similar to those in New Jersey. In short, the court said states can no longer limit the right-to-carry to those who demonstrate a compelling need to do so. That right must be available without the states’ need requirement, according to the court.
But the court also said states could prohibit firearms from being carried in “sensitive places,” defined as locales where guns have been historically banned.
That gives some guidance, but apparently not enough. Those on both sides have debated what “sensitive places” are for the last 15 months or so.
The state Legislature in the wake of the court ruling declared many places to be “sensitive,” including schools, courthouses, stadiums and relevant to the case at hand, playgrounds and youth events.
Pro-Second Amendment groups challenged the law in court and the matter is now before a federal appeals court. In the meantime, guns remain banned in most of the originally-defined sensitive places pending a final ruling.
In arguing for the right-to-carry in playgrounds and youth events, supporters say the historical record – a key Supreme Court criteria – is limited in that regard and that previous generations did not leave the vulnerable defenseless.
Bringing this debate to 2023, it needs to be pointed out that previous generations did not have to deal with out-of-control behavior at youth games.
As Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said in a statement:
“In a world where volunteer umpires and nurses are being assaulted, it’s dangerous and extreme to force youth sports events, playgrounds, and hospitals to allow guns. We stand by the law we passed to keep children and families safe, and we will not stop fighting to keep our communities safe from gun violence.”
That’s not hyperbole. Just about any volunteer coach or umpire can tell you about unruly adults at youth games.
Murphy in his statement said:
“New Jersey is one of the safest states in the nation in no small part due to our strong gun safety laws, including our longstanding verification procedures that make sure firearms-carriers do not pose a threat to public safety. While greed and fanaticism continue to fuel the gun lobby, public safety will always guide our decisions.”
In looking at the November election, Republicans have been on the offensive in regard to such issues as parents’ rights in education and opposition to wind turbines off the Jersey Shore.
Democrats, you can be sure, want to make the election about abortion rights and gun safety.
So opposing guns at Little League games is a no-brainer.