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Federal Complaint Against New Jersey

Can be found here. The lawsuit is being filed by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is NRA’s State Association for New Jersey, and by the Second Amendment Foundation. This is not an Alan Gura case, though I’m told Gura will be advising in this case, and that SAF is providing the funding for it. The federal complaint is for “Deprivation of Civil Rights under Color of Law,” under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.

Plaintiff selection in this case appears to be quite good. The first plaintiff, Mr. Muller, was attacked and kidnapped and beaten after the Hell’s Angel’s mistook him for someone else. Fortunately he escaped, but his kidnappers still have yet to stand trial. Mr. Piszczatoski is a civilian employee for the FBI, and a former Coast Guardsman. The FBI informed him of islamic extremist threats against families and employees of the FBI, which caused him to desire a carry permit. A third plaintiff, Mr. Drake, carries large sums of cash in connection with his business. One of the plaintiffs is also a part-time deputy sheriff in Essex County, which aren’t authorized by the State of New Jersey to carry a handgun off duty. All plaintiffs have applied for and been denied a license to carry. They should easily pass standing requirements.

Some of the assertions of this case in terms of constitutionality:

The States retain the ability to regulate the manner of carrying handguns within constitutional parameters; to prohibit the carrying of handguns in specific, narrowly defined sensitive places; to prohibit the carrying of arms that are not within the scope of Second Amendment protection; and, to disqualify specific, particularly dangerous individuals from carrying handguns.

The States may not completely ban the carrying of handguns for self defense, deny individuals the right to carry handguns in non-sensitive places, deprive individuals of the right to carry handguns in an arbitrary and capricious manner, or impose regulations on the right to carry handguns that are inconsistent with the Second Amendment.

That seems to me where we should go with this. We have to accept, because of dicta in Heller about concealed weapons, that the states have the power to regulate how arms may be carried or worn, they just may not prohibit the carrying of defensive arms altogether, or restrict carrying them arbitrarily and unjustly. It’s a very short complaint, so it won’t take long to read, if you’re so inclined.

I would like to take some time to ask readers to join ANJRPC. You don’t have to live in New Jersey to join. Or if you would rather, donate to their litigation fund. Their e-commerce software sucks, and I apologize for that ahead of time. But it’s a worthy cause. Also, donations to SAF would be in order as well, since they are funding the case.

UPDATE: I was informed that my assumption the case was jointly funded was incorrect, and it is being funded by SAF and have adjusted the article accordingly. That was my mistake.

UPDATE: OK, got it wrong again. SAF is funding counsel of record, which is most of the cost of the suit. ANJRPC is funding additional elective resources, so the suit is not without cost to ANJRPC.

7 Responses to “Federal Complaint Against New Jersey”

  1. ZK says:

    Pretty interested in this long-term as a MA resident, where some town operate on more or less the same lines as New Jersey.

  2. Greg in Allston says:

    ZK, it is likely that in the near term there will be a case in central Ma. that will be taking on discretionary licensing in a particular city well know for its arbitrary and capricious licensing policies. The gentleman that will likely be filing the suit is an upstanding citizen (and he appears to have the means and necessary experience to properly persue a case) who was denied an unrestricted Class A LTC by the city and was issued instead one restricted to target/hunting. I’ve heard that he refused to accept the neutered LTC and decided to take the city and/or PD (licensing authority) to federal court. At this time I don’t know where this particular case stands or whether it has even been filed yet. It is my understanding that he is in the process of doing research with and seeking advice from “the right people/organizations”. Keep your ear to the rail, no doubt we’ll be hearing more shortly, at least I hope so.

  3. Very interesting. I’m sure the State of NJ will attack it saying that state court judges can’t be sued for their decisions under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The lawsuit is careful to point out that these judges were performing an executive function and not a judicial function.

    This is the same argument that the State of New York is or will be trying to use in the Westchester case (Kachalsky v. Cacace) as the named defendants are also judges. Alan Gura was careful to point out in his complaint that theywere sued in their administrative capacity.

  4. Patrick says:

    John,

    This is a facial challenge, rather than an as-applied challenge. Big upgrade for suits of this type and a little ballsy.

    I wrote up something over on MDShooters with more detail than I can submit here: http://www.mdshooters.com/showpost.php?p=869159&postcount=14

    Thanks for the Awesome work, as always.

    – Patrick

  5. Patrick says:

    Sebastian…that last comment was mis-aimed. Instead of addressing John it should have addressed you. No disrespect intended. I am a fan of your blog, though this is the first time I’ve dropped comment.

    Again, awesome work. Stop by MDShooters and join in the talk there. We have a fine contingent of PA folks.

  6. Sebastian says:

    No problem. I’m guessing you left the same comment on Richardson’s site? :) I am not offended by that. I’ve done it before too.

  7. Patrick says:

    No, it was more mundane a mistake. I read John’s comment and started my comment with that name in my head. Simple failure on my part.

    FWIW, I would continue to stay out of NJ even if they handed out guns at the border. Fairly or unfairly, I just never liked the place.

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