The Second Amendment Foundation and Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs will appeal a federal judge’s ruling Friday that “the Second Amendment does not include a general right to carry handguns outside the home.”
Federal Judge William H. Walls, a Clinton appointee, dismissed a case filed by both organizations challenging New Jersey's handgun carry laws, which have all but eliminated the right to self-defense with a firearm outside the home.
“The Second Amendment Foundation and ANJRPC are prepared to take this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where SAF has already won a landmark case defending the rights of gun owners,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb.
In upholding the New Jersey law, which effectively denies the right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home, Judge Walls wrote “the protection of citizens from potentially lethal force is compelling.”
“The judge has it backwards,” said ANJRPC President Scott Bach. “If he really cared about protecting citizens from lethal force, he wouldn’t be interfering with their constitutional right to defend themselves against violent criminals. Ironically, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the police owe no duty to protect individual citizens, so you’re on your own when you step outside your home. This decision wrongly demonizes those who want to take responsibility for their own safety and turns all but a privileged few into helpless victims.”
Particularly disturbing to Gottlieb was Judge Walls’ comment, “The Supreme Court has found limitations on the scope of a constitutional right outside the home in the First Amendment context, recognizing a right to privately possess obscene materials in the home but allowing the states broad power to regulate obscenity outside the home.”
“He appears to suggest the right to keep and bear arms is an obscenity,” Gottlieb said. “I wonder how that view might square with Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.”
Judge Walls’ decision sets the stage for appeals which could bring this case to the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year. The case was filed in late 2010 by ANJRPC, SAF and six individual plaintiffs, challenging New Jersey’s “justifiable need” standard for issuance of handgun carry permits, which is nearly an impossible standard to meet. Plaintiffs believe that requiring a showing of “need” to exercise a fundamental right is unconstitutional.