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In a concerted effort to challenge New Jersey’s stringent gun permit regulations, a coalition of gun rights groups, as well as a private citizen, has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that the state’s firearm permitting process is “onerous, unconstitutional and ahistorical.”

The lawsuit, submitted late last Tuesday, involves the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners, Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation and Christian Benton, a private citizen from New Jersey who alleges that his permits have not been issued within the mandated 30-day period.

“New Jersey does not allow a person to so much as purchase a firearm without receipt of a government permission slip,” the groups argue in their 35-page legal complaint.

The plaintiffs are targeting the extensive steps required for obtaining a handgun permit in New Jersey, including character references, fingerprinting, multiple fees and background checks. They assert that these requirements, along with delays in permit issuance, infringe upon residents’ Second Amendment rights.

“Making matters worse, some New Jersey authorities do not issue these permits timely, further delaying (and thereby infringing) the applicant’s Second Amendment rights,” the complaint states. Additionally, the permit allows for the purchase of only a single handgun and generally expires 90 days after issuance.

During this “lengthy and arduous” process, the groups argue that residents are unable to exercise their right to “keep and bear arms” as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. They also criticize New Jersey’s restriction that limits handgun purchases to one per month, claiming it lacks historical precedent and infringes on Second Amendment rights.

“This ‘one gun a month’ limitation on the exercise of an enumerated right lacks any historical tradition, infringes on New Jerseyans’ Second Amendment rights, and is an outlier among the states,” the lawsuit contends.

The suit names New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin and Pennsauken Township Police Chief Phil Olivo as defendants. Benton claims that Olivo has not issued his permits within the statutory 30-day period, which he anticipates will happen again with his most recent application.

The plaintiffs seek a court order declaring New Jersey’s permitting process unconstitutional and aim to permanently enjoin the defendants from delaying the exercise of Second Amendment rights in the state.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, criticized New Jersey’s “extensive and onerous” permitting process, labeling the state as “the worst of the worst” in terms of gun control. “We’re very optimistic that this case will eventually be the means by which we finally dismantle New Jersey’s unconstitutional permitting policies and liberate their citizens from their anti-gun tyranny,” Pratt said.

Sam Paredes, board member of the Gun Owners Foundation, echoed this sentiment, referring to New Jersey officials as “tyrants” and citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision, which expanded the right to carry handguns in public. “Governor Murphy and AG Platkin have repeatedly and insubordinately bemoaned the Second Amendment and federal court rulings that overturned gun control for years now, and we are excited to finally be confronting these tyrants head on,” Paredes stated. “As we’ve been telling policymakers since the Bruen decision, fall in line, or we will make you.”

This lawsuit comes on the heels of a significant Supreme Court decision that overturned a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, devices that enable semi-automatic firearms to fire at rapid rates, underscoring the ongoing national debate over gun rights and regulations.

Source: Courthouse News Service

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  1. Character references.
    Ah yes, more names for the BATFE.
    Guilty by association.
    Go gett’em Steve.

  2. It’s about effing time that gun rights groups challenged our NJ state laws.
    I was beginning to wonder if they’d ever get around to it.
    I hope this is the first of many challenges to New Jersey’s ridiculous laws, because the two laws they mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.
    Even after obtaining all the necessary permits and cards, when you bring them to your LGS to buy a gun, on top of the Federal NICS check, they have a state NICS check which is never “instant.” It can take hours, days, weeks, or in some cases (during a deliberate slowdown by state anti-gun bureaucrats) two months for the “instant” background check in New Jersey, and by then your NJ “permit to purchase a handgun” may have expired!

    • Is the state bg check new? I was an NJ gun owner from 2011-2017, never spent more than an hour in a gun shop to buy something, and that was mostly from me shooting the breeze with the owners.

  3. Wouldn’t make too much of a filing. It is only the beginning of the money-draining dance.

  4. Part of the problem is that if you grew up in NJ, this onerous process was the norm. Most folks there don’t know what it is like to live in a free state. I grew up in NJ and I dutifully applied for my rifle and shotgun firearms card, which enabled me to buy those items. Once I was 21 years old I applied for a handgun permit, and then another and then another. Each time, references and finger prints were required. But that’s all I knew at the time. It all seemed “normal”. Then I moved to NY for two decades. At that point I realized that NJ was easy peasy. For example, permits in NJ didn’t need to be approved by a sitting judge like they do in NY. I now live in the free state of Florida and now I see how wrong and unconstitutional NJ and NY are. These arcane laws need to be overturned.

  5. The constitution very clearly says “shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say anything about permits.

    • “The constitution very clearly says “shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say anything about permits.”

      Anti-gun organization and individuals are well aware of that.

    • Short answer commies, longer answer no ability to vote them out in numbers sufficient to repeal nonsense laws and only recently have the ability to form legal challenges and they were probably smart enough to observe how things went in NY to better craft the case to have standing to not be immediately dismissed in a likely hostile court and minimize resources expended to go for achievable objectives.

      Wild assed guess on my part

    • “Why do you need a permit to exercise an enumerated right???”

      Because no natural, human, civil or constitutionally enumerated right is absolute?

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