(The Center Square) — New Jersey is facing a challenge to its ‘assault’ weapons ban, with Second Amendment groups asking a federal judge to strike down the law.
In a new filing in U.S. District Court, the plaintiffs in three related lawsuits challenging New Jersey’s ban and other firearm restrictions argue that the gun control measures are unconstitutional and request a summary motion in favor of their claims.
The lawsuits were filed by the Association of New Jersey Rifle, Pistol Clubs and Firearms Policy Coalition and others on behalf of gun owners who argue the state’s ‘assault’ weapons ban violates the Second Amendment and a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision “upholding the right of honest citizens to carry firearms for personal protection.”
“The common thread tying them together is the righteous claim that, at its core, New Jersey’s regulatory scheme blatantly violates the fundamental rights of the state’s law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms in common use for self-defense and other lawful purposes,” plaintiffs wrote in the motion.
Lawyers for Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, a Democrat, argue that the ‘assault’ weapons ban — which has survived previous legal challenges — passes constitutional muster and has urged the federal court not to overturn the restrictions.
New Jersey has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, including mandated background checks, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and high-caliber weapons. It also has a ‘red flag’ law that allows authorities to confiscate firearms from those who are determined to pose a threat to themselves or others.
Last year, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that prevents licensed firearm owners from carrying guns in at least 25 “sensitive places” like government buildings, libraries, public transportation and day care centers. Second Amendment groups challenged the measure, but a federal appeals court upheld the restrictions.
Despite the state’s tough gun control laws, criminals are still getting firearms into New Jersey through illegal sales, officials say. They point to data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showing that in 2021, only 520 of the 3,202 “crime guns” confiscated by police were originally bought in New Jersey.
In Newark, the state’s largest city, police recovered 777 illegal guns last year, a 26% increase over the previous year, authorities say.
Cody J. Wisniewski, the Firearms Policy Coalition’s general counsel, said New Jersey’s ban on certain kinds of firearms is “unconstitutional and morally reprehensible” and said the group is confident the court will overturn the restrictions.
“Not only does New Jersey lack the power to ban its residents from owning these arms, but the ban targets some of the most commonly chosen arms in the nation for self-defense – arms that New Jersey’s politicians demand for their own protection,” he said.