More on the New Jersey Lawsuit

I’m finally having some time to go over ANJRPC‘s Federal Complaint in detail. The important thing is that this was filed in Federal Court. New Jersey’s court system is notoriously stacked against gun owners. The courts in the Garden State are highly political, sometimes corrupt, and will often ignore plain law. It is fair to say the independence of New Jersey’s courts leaves much to be desired. The Federal Courts are a much better venue to raise questions like this than in New Jersey courts.

We get into federal court through what’s called Federal-question jurisdiction, namely the claim that federal law preempts states for prohibiting the sale of air guns, and that New Jersey is violating said federal law with their rationing scheme. That is the real meat of the case. But because we are raising claims under a federal question, we can also raise claims under Supplemental Jurisdiction, and this lawsuit does that as well. The first concurrent claim related to the original count is raised under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, claiming (legal format altered for space and readability):

Members of Plaintiff Association wish to qualify for one or more of the Exemptions. On or about January 13, 2010, Plaintiff Bach applied for three Handgun Purchase Permits. Plaintiff Bach wishes to apply for the Collector Exemption so he can purchase more than one handgun within a 30 day period, which purchase would satisfy the statutory criteria for the Collector Exemption.

On or about January 14, 2010, Plaintiff Bach inquired of the State Police as to what procedure is available to apply for the Exemptions. The State Police told him that there was none at this time. Upon information and belief, at this time there is no procedure in place by which an applicant can apply for and the Superintendent can grant any of the Exemptions.

Accordingly, certain Plaintiffs and/or Members of Plaintiffs who would qualify for one or more Exemptions, and who would therefore be entitled by law to purchase more than one handgun in a 30 day period are being unlawfully constrained by the One Gun Law, are unable to purchase more than one handgun in a 30 day period, and are unlawfully subject to prosecution if they do so.

Therefore, Plaintiffs are being deprived of their liberty and/or property without due process of law in violation of Amendment XIV of the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, including, but not limited to, relief enjoining the enforcement of the One Gun Law.

So the law provides for an exception, and the State Police claim to have no procedure for dealing with the new law. This is typical of how New Jersey operates, and New Jersey gun owners should be greatly pleased, for once, they will have to answer for it in court. The next claim is similar, also under the 14th Amendment:

N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.4(h) provides as follows:

Applicants for a permit to purchase a handgun may apply for more than one permit per application. The number of permits requested, and each permit number shall be entered in the spaces provided on the application.

On or about January 7, 2010, Plaintiff Johnson applied for two Handgun Purchase Permits at the Washington Township (Morris County) Police Department. Notwithstanding the One Gun Law, Plaintiff Johnson can save time, effort, and expense by applying for multiple Handgun Purchase Permits simultaneously and lawfully using only one Handgun Purchase Permit with any given 30 day period. On or about January 8, 2010, the Chief of Police of Washington Township notified Plaintiff Johnson by letter that as of January 1, 2010 the New Jersey State Police are only permitting one application for a Handgun Purchase Permit per month and returned the fee for his second Handgun Purchase Permit. By denying Plaintiff Johnson’s right to apply for two Handgun Purchase Permits simultaneously, Defendant Washington violated N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.4(h), which explicitly authorizes such application.

The law actually allows individuals to still apply for more than one permit to purchase at a time. The claim is that police departments are violating the law by refusing to accept applications at a rate of more than one per month. Presumably then it would be up to the purchaser and dealer to ration the gun purchases, however this complaint asks for injunctive relief against the entire law, the two concurrent claims just help make the case stronger, and will possibly put police departments under court order not to enforce any aspects of the one gun a month law.

Police departments in New Jersey having to follow the law when it comes to gun permits? What a novel concept! This suit does not raise any Second Amendment claims, which is prudent given that we do not yet have a ruling in McDonald as of yet as to how the Fourteenth Amendment applies Second Amendment rights to the states.