The District Court continued: However, it is this type of deference seeking that the Supreme Court has cautioned federal courts to avoid. It is not the role of this Court to either pass judgment (i.e., “make difficult empirical judgments”) on the costs and benefits of firearms restrictions or to defer to the intent of the Legislature (which parenthetically, the Supreme Court found understandable). Bruen, 142 S. Ct. at 2131. This Court’s role is straightforward. The Court must answer two questions: one, does the Second Amendment’s plain text cover the challenged provision? And two, does historical evidence support the restriction?
III. ANALYSIS Before the Court turns to the merits of Plaintiffs’ Motion, it addresses two of Defendants’ preliminary arguments. As noted, Defendants press this Court to refrain from acting urgently and to afford them more time to set forth the legal justifications for the legislation. [State’s Br. at 7.] As State Defendants argue, a “hasty injunction would short-circuit the democratic process while the litigation process is underway.”3 [State’s Br. at 2.] This Court concurs, in that no injunction should ever be hastily issued, but Defendants must do more than promise they will justify the constitutional basis for its legislation later. Surely, Defendants had—or should have had—the historical materials and analyses the State relied upon when it began its legislative response to Bruen. After all, the Supreme Court was clear that in order for any gun control legislation to pass constitutional muster under the Second Amendment, such legislation must be consistent with historical tradition.
The State has had six months. In support, Defendants point to the Second Circuit’s stays of District Court orders enjoining the enforcement of similar New York legislation. [State’s Br. at 2 n.1 (citing Order, Docket No. 41, Christian v. Nigrelli, No. 22-2987 (2d Cir. Dec. 12, 2022); Order, Docket No. 75, Antonyuk v. Hochul, No. 22-2908 (2d Cir. Dec. 7, 2022); Order, Docket No. 53, Hardaway v. Nigrelli, No. 22-2933 (2d Cir. Dec. 7, 2022)).] But Defendants leave out part of the story: on December 21, 2022, plaintiffs in Antonyuk petitioned the United States Supreme Court to vacate the Second Circuit’s stay order. Brief of Applicants, Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, No. 22A557 (U.S. Dec. 21, 2022). Thus, it is by no means clear that New York’s newly adopted gun control legislation will remain in effect while the case proceeds. Here, Defendants are in essence asking this Court to allow New Jersey’s legislation to continue with no reasonable end in sight, as this litigation could take years to resolve. Instead, until such time, this Court will uphold the status quo.
The State attempted to use procedure as a weapon here since the substantive precedent was clearly against them. Many judges would have taken the bait and allowed the legislation to stand since the judge will likely be mentioned and blamed for subsequent instances of gun violence. Judge Bumb should be commended for her thoughtful analysis.