Sensitive Places Law Update: Major Court Ruling Reversed in New Jersey

A Reversal by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Puts Sensitive Locations for Carrying Weapons Back in Play in NJ

Arrested for a Concealed Weapon in a Sensitive Place in NJ Most of New Jersey’s gun restrictions are again enforceable after reviewing Koons v. Platkin, D.N.J., No. 1:22-cv-07464. The federal appeals court lifted an injunction imposed by Judge Renee Marie Bumb of the New Jersey District Court. The gun restrictions placed on New Jerseyans late last year were the state’s response to the Supreme Court decision, New York Rifle and Pistol Association vs. Bruen. In compliance with the decision, the legislature removed the justifiable need requirement for obtaining a firearm carry permit, instead restricting where people may carry a firearm. The Bruen court struck down a New York law that required applicants to show proper cause for a carry permit. New Jersey’s law thus became a Second Amendment violation. After New Jersey revised its law, the District Court enjoined the state from enforcing most of the “sensitive” places restrictions.

What Qualifies as a Sensitive Place for the Purposes of Guns in New Jersey?

Sensitive places include childcare facilities, schools, movie theaters, pre-schools, churches, zoos, public parks, libraries, healthcare facilities, film sets, and places serving alcohol, according to the reinstated law. The law made it illegal to carry a gun within 100 feet of most public gatherings and other sensitive locations, increasing public danger and vulnerability. The law also requires permission for guns to be carried onto private properties (but not private property open to the public) and increased the concealed carry permit application requirements with higher fees and training courses, and liability insurance proof. Further, the law forbids loaded guns in motor vehicles.

To Enforce or Not to Enforce NJ’s Concealed Carry Restrictions?

Judge Bumb agreed and, at first, temporarily enjoined the state from enforcing some of the legal provisions, later permanently expanding the injunction to cover sensitive place restrictions, except schools and government offices, while upholding most of the revised carry permit requirements. She scolded the New Jersey law’s proponents for depriving law-abiding citizens of the right to self-defense. As such, she enjoined enforcement of the carry ban on film sets and at zoos, public gatherings, medical offices, and airport pickup and drop-off areas. She further enjoined enforcement of the liability insurance and in-person character reference interview requirements. She stated the permit requirements are reasonable and not in violation of the Second Amendment. Her reasoning for the injunction was the law disarmed lawful gun holders without proof that they were responsible for increased gun crime.

However, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s injunction regarding some of the law’s restrictions while other lawsuits challenging the law move through the judicial process. The Third Circuit allowed handgun carry restrictions in many listed sensitive places. In a 2-1 decision, the Court sided with Governor Murphy and New Jersey Attorney General Platkin, who filed an appeal and emergency motion to stay the District Court’s injunction pending the appeal. Now, concealed handguns may not enter within 100 feet of public gatherings; nursery schools; pre-schools; zoos; summer camps; beaches, public parks; libraries; museums; places where alcohol is served; entertainment facilities; casinos; and health care facilities.

Judge Bumb’s injunction against enforcing restrictions on carrying guns in cars or on movie sets remains. Additionally, people may carry guns on private property open to the public unless the property owner expressly prohibits it. The liability insurance requirement is also blocked. So, New Jersey legal permit owners may carry concealed handguns into restaurants and in their cars, which carries implications for traffic stops and law enforcement work. For now, those driving with permitted concealed handguns in their cars are not subject to unlawful possession if operating in accordance with rules on transporting firearms.

Questions about a Pending Gun Case in NJ? Contact our Law Firm

Since the law is unsettled in this area and promises to remain in flux while Koons vs. Platkin moves through the judicial process, it is imperative for residents of New Jersey, those who visit or travel through the state, and New Jersey gun defense lawyers to keep up on the state of NJ gun laws. Specifically, defendants whose arrests occurred when the subject law was in place or after the District Court injunction need attorneys familiar with the law and its possible legality once all appeals are exhausted. Additionally, our dedicated team of NJ gun lawyers are attentively following the other lawsuits moving through the court system to advise and defend our clients best.

Aside from keeping up with the recent law case law on the subject matter, our experienced New Jersey firearm defense attorneys are skilled in the constitutional, criminal, and evidentiary laws and public policies that protect defendants and the public. Therefore, we are skilled in filing motions to suppress evidence when the state searches property or people unlawfully and seizes evidence from such improper searches, leading to gun charges. These protective motions may affect the state’s case and result in not-guilty verdicts. Not only that, but we have successfully secured favorable results like Pre-Trial Intervention admission for people charged with illegal gun possession, as well as Graves Act Waivers to help clients avoid prison for firearm offenses. If you face charges for violating New Jersey’s strict gun laws, get advice and zealous representation from a gun lawyer at The Tormey Law Firm who will protect your rights in the tumultuous environment of current and changing gun law.