New Jersey: Federal judge blocks ban on gun possession at casinos

New Jersey’s recently enacted ban on carrying guns at beaches and casinos has been blocked by a federal judge, who still left in place other restrictions passed by the state in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year expanding gun rights nationwide. 

The order from U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb in Camden came in response to a lawsuit brought by seven people and the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs challenging parts of a law signed by Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in December. 

Governor Phil Murphy

Scott Bach, executive director of the association, commented: “This marks the beginning of the end for Governor Murphy’s blatantly unconstitutional new carry law, which is going down in flames.”

Tyler Jones, a spokesperson for Murphy, assured they are looking forward to being able to appeal the ruling, and expressed his confidence it will be reversed, as reported by Reuters.

Bumb blocked other parts of the law in a similar lawsuit brought by different plaintiffs weeks prior to this latest move. Those measures included bans on carrying guns in public libraries, museums, bars and restaurants and on private property without the owner’s explicit permission, as well as transporting loaded guns in vehicles. 

Other parts of the law, including measures tightening gun licensing requirements and handgun safety rules, remain in effect. The ruling in both cases are temporary restraining orders, which will prevent the bans from being enforced while the lawsuit goes forward. They are not final judgments. 

Both lawsuits argue that the state’s new restrictions violate the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The law was passed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in June that the U.S. Constitution protects individuals’ right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, striking down a New York law governing gun licenses. 

The high court’s decision left open the possibility for states to restrict guns in “sensitive places” but said any restrictions must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of gun regulation. Bumb found that the challenged restrictions in both cases did not fit into that tradition. 

The Garden State has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States, and the third-lowest rate of firearm deaths. Guns have always been banned at Atlantic City’s casinos under the Casino Control Act, a policy that will remain in place despite last week’s order.

As a condition of their licensing, operators are required to place signs near the entrance of their properties that state: “By law, no person shall possess any pistol or firearm within the casino or casino simulcasting facility without the express written permission of the Division of Gaming Enforcement.”