Are there any loopholes in the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion today overturning state laws – like one in New Jersey – that require applicants to show why they need to carry a concealed weapon?
You can be assured that Phil Murphy will try to find some.
Today’s 6-3 ruling was not surprising given the right wing bent of the current court.
In layman’s terms, laws in New Jersey, New York, four other states and the District of Columbia make it very hard for average people to carry a firearm. In seeking a permit, they must prove exactly why they need to carry a weapon.
The court ruled on a challenge to the New York law, but since the New Jersey regulation is based on the same premise, it is impacted as well.
Here is what Murphy said in a statement:
“Based on a deeply flawed constitutional methodology, a right wing majority on the United States Supreme Court has just said that states can no longer decide for ourselves how best to limit the proliferation of firearms in the public sphere. Let there be no mistake – this dangerous decision will make America a less safe country.
“But let me be equally clear that here in New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to protect our residents. Anticipating this decision, my administration has been closely reviewing options we believe are still available to us regarding who can carry concealed weapons and where they can carry them. We are carefully reviewing the court’s language and will work to ensure that our gun safety laws are as strong as possible while remaining consistent with this tragic ruling.”
Similar sentiment was expressed by Matt Platkin, the acting Attorney General.
It’s worth pointing out that the ruling does not mean anyone can legally carry a gun in New Jersey. One still needs a permit to do so.
So you can expect that permit process to continue to be as rigid as can be, although an applicant would no longer be required to demonstrate a special need.
How about “loopholes” in the court ruling?
The majority opinion by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas speaks of “sensitive places” where carrying weapons is logically and legally prohibited. He specifically mentioned “schools and government buildings.”
He warns that expanding the definition of “sensitive places” too broadly would run afoul of the court decision. Yet, at the same time, there would seem to be some room here for the state to widen the definition of “sensitive places” to include, to start, such things as parks, malls and places of worship.
New Jersey has long had among the toughest gun laws in the nation and criticism from some conservatives, notwithstanding, the majority of residents seem to like it that way.
That should put whatever the governor does in this regard on the right side of public opinion.
After all, if it becomes easier to carry a concealed weapon, it can become easier for everyone – the virtuous and the depraved.
A more practical question has to do with politics and the midterm election.
Will the court’s embrace of gun rights and anticipated overturning of Roe v. Wade increase Democratic turnout?
That’s what Bob Menendez hopes. He said today:
“We must fight to keep and expand our Democratic majority in the Senate and push through judicial appointments that will protect our children, our families, our neighbors and our friends.”