Judge Bumb continued: A. Plaintiffs’ Complaint and Request for Emergent Injunctive Relief Plaintiffs allege that “at first, the State of New Jersey complied with the Court’s directive” in Bruen, by abandoning its “justifiable need” requirement. [Pls.’ Br. at 1.] But on December 22, 2022, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Chapter 131 of the 2022 Laws of New Jersey that imposed a new set of requirements, many of which became effective immediately, including declaring certain locations as “sensitive places” where firearms are prohibited, even by carriers with permits, as well as a ban on carrying functional firearms in vehicles. Plaintiffs decry the challenged legislation as declaring war on the Second Amendment because it essentially renders the entire State of New Jersey a “sensitive place” where firearms are prohibited. [Pls.’ Br. at 1 (New Jersey “has declared most of the State to be off limits to carry through the artifice of ‘sensitive places’”).]
Of note is the fact that Plaintiffs’ current challenge does not attack the entire piece of legislation. As Defendants point out and Plaintiffs do not challenge here, other relevant provisions of Chapter 131 strengthened the criteria used to determine whether an applicant is qualified to purchase or carry firearms. 2022 N.J. Laws c. 131 § 2. The chapter also enhanced requirements for character references and instituted a firearms safety course requirement. Id. §§ 2, 3. Further safety-related changes to carry requirements are set to take effect in seven months: Section 4 requires that anyone carrying a handgun in public obtain liability insurance, and Sections 5 and 6 set out requirements for the safe carry of handguns. Id.
The cost of the required liability insurance is likely to lead to additional constitutional challenges. The exercising of a fundamental constitutional right should be available regardless of one’s financial means. Those in poverty-stricken areas are more likely to need a firearm for everyday protection.