Drake v. Jerejian — Amicus Brief challenging New Jersey’s Concealed Carry Laws

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

In New Jersey, it is a crime to possess a firearm unless you can prove that you fit within one or more tightly-drawn statutory exemptions. One exemption allows a person to have a handgun on his own property, but he may not step one foot beyond unless the gun is fully disabled and he is heading to an approved destination.

New Jersey carry permits are like honest politicians — they are rumored to exist, but few have ever actually seen one. As one State legislator observed: “It is virtually never done.” An ordinary person may be granted a permit only if he can prove to the satisfaction of a judge that his life is in grave danger. Certain members of the privileged class of government workers are permitted to carry firearms; they need only prove that they are currently or were formerly employed in law enforcement.

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of John M. Drake and several other ordinary New Jersey citizens who applied for but were denied permits to carry their handguns in public, because they could not prove that their lives were in imminent danger. Our brief makes three arguments.

First, the federal judges below simply refused to analyze the New Jersey gun control scheme according to the original meaning of the Second Amendment and established constitutional norms. Instead, judges in both courts substituted their own ideas about gun control in disregard of America’s founders.

Second, New Jersey’s ban on carrying a firearm rests upon the premise that firearms are a privilege granted by the state rather than an inherent, individual right, as held by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2010 McDonalddecision.

Third, the right to keep and bear arms belongs to “all Americans,” as the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in the 2008 Heller decision. That is because, as the Second Amendment states, the right is “necessary to the security of a free State.” New Jersey, on the other hand, grants theprivilege only to current and former government law enforcement, purportedly to ensure a “safe” State.

We hope that the Supreme Court will grant the petition for certiorari in this case in order to restore the Second Amendment right to carry a firearm for self defense.

Our brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., U.S. Justice Foundation, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Policy Analysis Center.

Link to brief