Coalition of 19 states plead with SCOTUS to hear arguments against N.J.’s concealed carry law

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 13, 2014

A coalition of 19 states is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments on the legality of New Jersey’s restrictive concealed carry law.

New Jersey has one of the most restrictive concealed carry laws in the nation, with residents needing to prove a “justifiable need” to carry a weapon before applying for the permit. The law was upheld last summer by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the brief sent by the Wyoming Attorney General’s office, which is leading the coalition, the states are concerned that if the Supreme Court doesn’t overturn the Appeals Court ruling it’ll jeopardize their own state’s less-restrictive laws.

“This decision out of New Jersey impacts the right to keep and bear arms outside of the home,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead told The Associated Press Wednesday. “So, I felt it was necessary to have the attorney general support a petition to the Supreme Court to hear this case.

“If the current decision stands, states providing greater protections than New Jersey under the Second Amendment may be pre-empted by future federal action,” he added.

Wyoming is among the most pro-gun stations in the nation; in 2011, the state changed its laws so residents can carry a concealed weapon legally without a permit. Last month, gun manufacturer Magpul announced that it would move its manufacturing operations from Colorado to the Cowboy State after the state passed stringent new gun control laws in 2013. The Wyoming state government pledged $13 million in grants to help Magpul with the move.

The other states involved in the suit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

In addition to the 19 state, the National Rifle Association is also supporting his legal challenge and plans to submit an amicus brief on Drake’s behalf.

“Law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to defend themselves beyond their front doorstep,” Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement Monday. “New Jersey law unconstitutionally forces lawful gun owners to prove ‘justifiable need’ in order to carry a handgun for self-defense, showing specific threats, or prior attacks. This is absurd. Our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not limited to the home.”

According to The Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey resident John M. Drake filed suit against the state because his job often requires him to carry large amounts of money. Drake owns a business that owns and services ATM machines.

“It seems unreasonable to me to have to wait until you’re beaten up or shot at to get a permit,” he told the paper.

While the federal Supreme Court debates hearing the case, a separate lawsuit is still awaiting oral argument before the state Supreme Court, marking the first time in 45 years that the state has revisited its own gun-control laws. The Court ruled in 1968 that only citizen militias – not individuals – have Second Amendment rights in the Garden State.

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