Business owner Tom Rogers sued after Wall Township Police turned down his application for a concealed carry permit. The complaint says, Rogers must “… frequently service ATM machines in high-crime areas.” And while “Rogers does not face any specific danger to his life. He does, however, desire to carry a handgun in public for the purpose of self-defense.”
“The fact that he runs an ATM business and may carry a lot of cash … Listen, the bottom line is that citizens are on their own in an emergency and the government shouldn’t interfere with their ability to protect themselves,” said the president of Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, Scott Bach.
Bach joined Rogers in the lawsuit against New Jersey, the State Police, Wall Township and others filed in federal court in Newark. Bach says, Rogers passed all the background checks and training requirements for a permit, but didn’t qualify because New Jersey’s concealed carry law requires applicants to prove a strictly-defined “justifiable need” in order to get a permit.
“New Jersey makes it impossible or near impossible for the average person to qualify,” said Bach. “The whole point of our case is you shouldn’t have to prove need. Just like you don’t have to prove need to exercise your First Amendment rights in the press. An ordinary citizen should not have to prove need in order to protect themselves in public.”
The complaint asks the court to overturn New Jersey’s concealed carry law and award permits to the plaintiffs. But it will undoubtedly face a legal firefight.
“There already are too many guns on our streets and simply adding more to the equation will not make us, or our communities, any safer,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at an event on Jan. 26.
Newly-elected Murphy, who’s closely aligned with gun control advocates, recently moved to re-tighten state concealed carry standards. New Jersey’s one of seven states that severely restricts permits.
“There has to be something that is not just a vague ‘I feel afraid’ or ‘I feel worried.’ There has to be specific cases where your safety was in danger, or something like that,” said executive director of Ceasefire NJ, Rev. Ben Moore. “The idea that almost anybody should be able to carry a concealed weapon I think is just a formula for the Wild West.”
But plaintiffs remain undeterred. Even though previous legal challenges have failed — and could fail again they admit. Bach says recent rulings in other jurisdictions give their case a better chance at success on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We have a call out to anybody who is an average, ordinary citizen, who applied for their concealed carry permit and have been denied. We would like them to contact us because there may be room in the case for others,” said Bach.
New Jersey’s attorney general had no comment on pending litigation.