Home>Governor>N.J. concealed carry law again partly blocked by federal judge

Gov. Phil Murphy, center, shortly after signing legislation to amend New Jersey's concealed carry laws in December 2022. (Photo: Office of the Governor).

N.J. concealed carry law again partly blocked by federal judge

Bumb writes that law signed by Murphy last year ‘went too far’

By Joey Fox, May 16 2023 6:32 pm

A concealed carry law that Gov. Phil Murphy signed last December was dealt another legal setback today, with a federal judge blocking large portions of the law from being enforced while litigation is ongoing.

U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb’s decision specifically prevents the law’s provisions requiring firearm owners to purchase liability insurance from going into effect; it also blocks restrictions on firearms in a wide array of public locations. The order is an expansion of Bumb’s previous ruling from January, which blocked parts of the law on a temporary basis.

Bumb wrote in her 235-page decision that while some restrictions on firearms may be acceptable under the 2nd Amendment, New Jersey’s law “went too far, becoming the kind of law that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson would have warned against since it ‘disarm[s] only those who are not inclined or determined to commit crimes [and] worsen[s] the plight of the assaulted, but improve[s] those of the assailants.’”

The impetus for reforming the state’s concealed carry restrictions arose last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s “justifiable need” requirement for concealed carry permits. New Jersey had a similar law on the books that was overturned by the decision, forcing the state’s Democrats to devise alternate ways to implement gun restrictions.

The ultimate solution state leaders came up with was to ditch the justifiable need requirement but add a bevy of new restrictions, including banning firearms in dozens of categories of “sensitive locations” and adding new hurdles to receive permits.

Last fall, legislative leadership began marshaling support for a bill doing just that; it ultimately passed both chambers on near party-line votes. The bill prompted strenuous objections from Republican legislators who – perhaps presciently – predicted a long legal battle that would end poorly for Democrats. 

“What we do today is challenge the Supreme Court of the United States,” State Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said on the Senate floor. “The majority today has taken an extreme step. We know we’re going to be back here to revisit.”

Murphy, who has strongly pushed for gun control legislation since taking office, signed the bill shortly after it reached his desk. But a few weeks later, Bumb, a George W. Bush appointee, temporarily blocked certain parts of the bill, a ruling that remained in effect until today’s superseded it.

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin, who like Murphy is a vociferous proponent of gun control measures, blasted the ruling in a statement and said he would be “appealing immediately.”

“Over and over, the evidence has shown that keeping firearms out of sensitive places will keep our residents safe, and our elected officials passed sensible laws to do exactly that,” Platkin said. “But the court now insists that we are powerless to protect New Jersey residents… This decision is bad constitutional law and bad for New Jersey.”

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