by WorldTribune Staff, March 23, 2020
A gun rights group is suing New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, saying he has essentially “suspended the Second Amendment” during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) reported it has filed a federal lawsuit against Murphy and State Police Superintendent Patrick J. Callahan. The foundation asserted that Murphy’s executive order which shut down firearms dealerships in the Garden State is preventing citizens from exercising their rights under the Second and Fourteenth amendments.
Murphy on March 21 issued Executive Order 107, which ordered all non-essential retail businesses in New Jersey closed to the public. Licensed firearms dealers are not included on the governor’s list of “essential” businesses that may continue operating during the coronavirus crisis.
“Gov. Murphy cannot simply suspend the Second Amendment, and neither can Supt. Callahan,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said. “Yet, under this emergency order, that’s exactly what they’re doing. The Constitution, and federal law, don’t allow that. New Jersey may have been the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights, but they’re the last state to recognize it.”
Joining the SAF in the lawsuit is the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, on behalf of Robert Kashinsky and Legend Firearms, a gun shop in the state. They are represented by noted civil rights attorney David Jensen.
Kashinsky sought to purchase a firearm for personal protection during the current crisis, but was unable to do so due to the governor’s order, the lawsuit said.
“In order for New Jersey residents to purchase firearms they must go through a licensed firearms retailer and pass a background check. However, Murphy’s order was subsequently followed by a notice posted on the State Police website that the agency is no longer conducting background checks,” Gottlieb said.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction restraining the defendants and everyone acting on their behalf from enforcing the governor’s executive order “to the extent it operates to flatly prohibit the purchase and sale of firearms and ammunition.”
The case explains it does not seek to “minimize the severity or urgency of the coronavirus pandemic. The exigencies surrounding this viral pandemic both justify and necessitate changes in the manner in which people live their lives and conduct their daily business. However, this emergency (like any other emergency) has its constitutional limits. It would not justify a prior restraint on speech, nor a suspension of the right to vote. Just the same, it does not justify a ban on obtaining guns and ammunition.”
States “do not have the power to prohibit the keeping and bearing of arms, nor do they have the power to close the channels of distribution by which people obtain firearms and ammunition,” the lawsuit says.