Court Battles

Judge expands pause of New Jersey gun law that bans firearms in casinos, parks and bars

A dealer prepared to spin the ball during a game of roulette at the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City N.J. on Aug. 8, 2022. On Sept. 16, 2022, New Jersey gambling regulators reported that the state’s casinos, horse tracks that offer sports betting and the online partners of both types of gambling outlets won $470.6 million from gamblers in August, up nearly 10% from a year earlier. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked New Jersey’s firearm bans at casinos, parks and beaches, the latest setback for the state’s new gun law.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb, a George W. Bush appointee, augments her opinion earlier this month temporarily blocking enforcement at other so-called sensitive places where state lawmakers banned firearms.

Gun rights advocates filed the two legal challenges within hours of Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signing the law on Dec. 22, setting up one of multiple legal battles nationwide that are parsing the Supreme Court’s landmark gun ruling last summer.

The high court’s conservative majority in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen noted that states can ban firearms in sensitive places, but they ruled any law must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

Firearm bans at 19 of the 25 categories that lawmakers deemed sensitive places, including child care facilities and film studios, remain in effect. The law also includes a host of other types of gun regulations that remain enforceable.

In her two rulings, Bumb said the groups were likely to succeed on some of their claims that parts of New Jersey’s law does not comply with the Bruen ruling.

Responding to the first group’s challenge, Bumb paused gun bans in libraries; museums; bars and restaurants where alcohol is sold; entertainment facilities; and private property when the owner doesn’t provide express consent.

Monday’s order grants a request from the second group — New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs and seven of its members — to expand the pause to casinos as well as state-owned parks and beaches.

State lawmakers had banned firearms in all of those locations through the new law, but Bumb also on Monday paused the state’s existing regulations that already largely banned firearms in casinos and state parks.

Bumb also granted a motion for the leaders of New Jersey’s two legislative chambers, both of which are led by Democrats, to intervene and defend the law from the two challenges, which will be heard together in future proceedings.

“We are disappointed that the court has undermined important and longstanding protections against firearms violence in our public parks and in casinos,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin (D) said in a statement.

“Today’s order is bad for public safety and inconsistent with the Second Amendment. But these orders remain temporary, and we look forward to pressing our case, including ultimately on appeal,” he added.

Tags George W. Bush Gun control New Jersey Phil Murphy

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