U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Several days after the Second Amendment Foundation warned the Mayor of New Orleans against suspending firearms sales in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, that organization has hit the New Jersey governor with a federal lawsuit alleging depravation of rights for “shutting down firearms dealerships in the Garden State, thus preventing citizens from exercising their rights under the Second and Fourteenth amendments.”
It may be the first time in history for such a legal action, as panic over the Coronavirus continues.
SAF is joined by 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 at Jensen & Associates in Beacon, N.Y. He is also representing SAF and the Connecticut Citizens Defense League in a federal lawsuit against the state of Connecticut’s prohibition on so-called “high capacity magazines.”
In the New Jersey case, Gov. Phil Murphy and State Police Supt. Patrick J. Callahan are defendants in their official capacities. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleges depravation of rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The case is known as Kashinsky v. Murphy. The complaint may be read here.
The lawsuit contends that Murphy, by issuing Executive Order 107 on March 21, mandated “the closure of all retail businesses that sell firearms or ammunition and of making the portal for firearms background checks unavailable on the website of the New Jersey State Police…amount to a ban on obtaining firearms or ammunition in the State of New Jersey.”
Kashinsky, according to the federal complaint, does not own a firearm, but he recently obtained a Firearms Purchaser Identification card for the purpose of buying a gun out of concern for his ability to protect himself and his wife in the event of an emergency. However, Murphy’s executive order was quickly followed by a notice posted on the State Police background check portal of its website “indicating that the State Police would no longer conduct background checks,” the lawsuit says.
“Gov. Murphy cannot simply suspend the Second Amendment, and neither can Supt. Callahan,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “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,” Gottlieb observed. “but they’re the last state to recognize it.”
In 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, SAF and the National Rifle Association took the City of New Orleans to federal court over firearm seizures conducted by the administration of former Mayor Ray Nagin. The court found those gun confiscations—some of which were done at gunpoint—to be unconstitutional.
Recently, when North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a statewide emergency due to the Coronavirus, SAF reminded officials about the case of Bateman v. Purdue, that prevents suspension of Second Amendment rights during an emergency in that state. The intent was to allow people to venture outside their homes with firearms in the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane.
“We could not have foreseen that our case against North Carolina would ever keep citizens safe in this kind of emergency,” Gottlieb said, “but we are delighted that no public official can arbitrarily render the state’s residents unable to defend themselves on the grounds of a declared emergency. That’s the time when honest citizens might need their firearms the most while away from home.”
Just days ago, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an emergency order that actually exempts firearm and ammunition distributors and retailers from any shutdown, recognizing them instead as “essential businesses…for the purposes of safety and security.” SAF applauded the governor.
The New Jersey lawsuit could put other states on notice about trying to shut down the exercise of Second Amendment rights. Most state constitutions also have right-to-bear-arms provisions, and they are often more protective than the Second Amendment.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books #add on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.