Lawsuit Against New Jersey’s Strict “Justifiable Need” Restriction

new jerseyJohn Drake runs an ATM servicing business and carries large amounts of cash, making him a prime target for robbery attempts, and wants to legally carry a firearm for protection. However, according to the state of New Jersey, he failed to prove “justifiable need” (even after a thwarted robbery attempt on his business) to carry a gun under their statute which prohibits people who have or carry large sums of money on them as part of their jobs from also carrying a handgun for protection. He initially appealed to a three judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but lost.

Because of this, Drake joined an existing lawsuit, originally filed by a New   Jersey pet shop owner who was kidnapped and beaten after being denied a carry permit; however that man dropped out of the lawsuit when his permit was approved. Drake says, “it seems unreasonable to me to have to wait until you’re beaten up or shot at to get a permit.” Many people agree with Drake, and because of that, support is quickly growing for this lawsuit which challenges the state’s tight restrictions on handgun ownership and its extremely high standard of “justifiable need” for carrying a firearm outside the home, and which claims that his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment has been violated. Nineteen states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming) and the NRA have now joined Drake in the lawsuit, and with Wyoming in the lead, these states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

If you are wondering why other states care about the laws of New Jersey, in the words of Wyoming’s Governor Matt Mead, “if the current decision stands, states providing greater protections than New Jersey under the Second Amendment may be preempted by future federal actions.” Some people in New Jersey are unhappy with the intervention from “outsiders” and an editorial has actually called on them to “butt out”, saying “States have broad powers to set gun policy, and in ours, a strong majority supports strict laws. Most New Jerseyans don’t want to have to worry that the guy they’re fighting with over a parking spot might be packing heat. That’s why you need to show justifiable need to carry a handgun here.” In response to this, all I have to say is that it is a sad society where you feel it is OK, and normal, to fight over a parking spot.

The state of New Jersey is asking the Supreme Court not to take the case, while at least three dozen members of Congress as urging them to take it up. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has yet to take a stand on the issue, although in the past he has defended the state’s gun laws as “sensible”.

Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s institute for Legislative Action, said, “Law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to defend themselves beyond their front doorstep. 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.”