If it is lawful to possess a book in one’s home, does that mean it is lawful to read a book while sitting on one’s porch? How about in one’s backyard? These questions sound absurd, but they are precisely the questions New Jersey gun owners face every day because New Jersey gun law treats gun owners as criminals unless they can show that they are not.
New Jersey courts have made it clear that gun laws are to be interpreted and applied as unfavorably as possible against the gun owner. In a 1973 case, State v. Valentine, the court declared: “The overriding philosophy of our Legislature is to limit the use of guns as much as possible.”
Similarly, in a 1996 case, State v. Pelleteri, the court declared: “When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril.”
The New Jersey Legislature must face the reality that the gun owner and the book owner alike must be treated with equal constitutional dignity. After McDonald, we now see that the emperor has no clothes.
New Jersey gun law is upside down, and if the New Jersey Legislature does not fundamentally reform its scheme of regulating guns, the courts will likely do it for them.
July 30, 2010
Op-Ed: Throwing the book at gun laws
Schmutter is a litigation attorney at the firm of Farer Fersko in Westfield, focusing on
environmental, commercial real estate and business law. He represented Jews for
the Preservation of Firearms Ownership as amicus curiae before the U.S. Supreme
Court in both the Heller and McDonald cases and currently represents the
Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs in its challenge to New
Jersey’s one-gun-a-month law.
[And the reform cannot come any too soon. People are dying and being put in prison out there.
H/T to John Richardson.–Joe]