Bloomberg Law
Jan. 9, 2023, 8:25 PM

NJ Ban on Concealed Guns in ‘Sensitive Places’ Stopped by Court

Bernie Pazanowski
Bernie Pazanowski

A Second Amendment challenge to New Jersey’s ban on carrying guns in sensitive places is likely to succeed, a federal court said Monday, granting a temporary restraining order against enforcing the law.

The new law defines “sensitive places” as public libraries or museums; bars, restaurants, and other places where alcohol is served; entertainment facilities; and private property. Also at issue was a provision of the law that requires the plaintiffs to carry their weapons unloaded and in locked containers while transporting them in vehicles.

The guiding light for Judge Renée Marie Bumb of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey was the US Supreme Court’s recent opinion in New York State Rifles & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, which said that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home. According to Bruen, any restriction on the right to carry a gun must be consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

New Jersey failed to provide a historical analogue for any of its restrictions, Bumb said. The defendants didn’t point to “any historical statutes that expressly or analogously prohibited firearms in museums and libraries, despite the fact that at least with respect to libraries, they have been in existence since the days of Benjamin Franklin,” she said.

Nor did the defendants present any historical support for preventing guns in bars, restaurants, or places where alcohol is served, the court said. Although firearm possession may be denied when a person is intoxicated, that has no application to a “restriction of one’s right to carry a firearm anywhere where alcohol is served,” it said.

The restriction on carrying guns in places of entertainment is also too broad, the court said. A Virginia law the defendants pointed to restricted firearms in places where crowds gather, but was designed to prevent terrorizing the crowd, “not the possession of a firearm in fairs or markets,” it said.

As for the private property restriction, the court said it’s up to the property owner, not the government, to tell someone they can’t bring a gun on their property. Nor is there a historical analogue applicable to the restriction on carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle, it said.

The prohibitions are also too broad, the court said. It’s near impossible to decipher what constitutes a sensitive place, and the law makes the right to carry a firearm so burdensome, it’s “no longer a constitutional right,” it said.

New Jersey’s restrictions constitute an irreparable injury on the plaintiffs, and neither the state nor the public has an interest in enforcing such an unconstitutional law, the court said.

David Jensen represented the plaintiffs. The N.J. Attorney General’s Office, the Atlantic County Law Department, and the Camden County Counsel’s Office represented the defendants.

The case is Koons v. Reynolds, D.N.J., No. 22-7464 (RMB/EAP), 1/9/23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Patrick L. Gregory at

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