Supreme Court declines to review New Jersey’s handgun permit law


Gloria Lincoln-Thompson carries her 9mm Smith & Wesson pistol in her waist band during a rally. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

The Supreme Court Monday decided once again to stay out of the legal battle over whether some states are too restrictive in issuing permits to carry a handgun outside the home.

The justices without comment turned down a request to review whether New Jersey’s law requiring “justifiable need” to get a handgun permit infringes on Second Amendment rights.

The court has not accepted a major gun case since its twin decisions that found there is a right to gun ownership in the home and that it applies to both federal and state government attempts at gun control.

All states allow handguns to be carried outside the home, but some are more restrictive than others. Gun-rights supporters said New Jersey’s law, similar to ones in Maryland, New York and elsewhere, make it nearly impossible for anyone who is not a member of law enforcement to get such a permit.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit upheld the law, saying the legislature’s decision was a “presumptively lawful, long-standing regulation and therefore does not burden conduct within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee.”

The issue is still being debated in lower courts, however.

Earlier this year, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco said San Diego County had infringed on constitutional rights by the way it enforced California’s law requiring “good cause” to obtain a concealed-weapons permit.

The New Jersey case was Drake v. Jerejian.

Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.

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