Anti-2A Forces Continue Their Push To Erode The Rights Of The People

Opinion
New Jersey Senate Bill S. 3757 Is One More Slap-In-The-Face For The Second Amendment And Heller.

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New York – -(AmmoLand.com)- The Arbalest Quarrel read with interest the NRA-ILA alert concerning New Jersey Senate Bill S. 3757 “that would force gun owners to store their guns and ammo under lock and key or face felony-level penalties.” We also read with interest and agree with the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs’ Scott Bach’s well-written explication of the bill.

Scott points out, “this ill-conceived bill imposes an absurd, one-size-fits-all totalitarian mandate to keep guns unloaded and locked up inside the home and to keep ammunition separately locked up inside the home, except when ‘in use’ – an utterly undefined term that will surely be interpreted to exclude everything except target practice.”

As Scott notes, the New Jersey gun bill is absurd. And it is idiotic on logical grounds alone.

But there is also a legal matter attendant to the bill. The bill flaunts and raises a disconcerting matter about the law that needs to be addressed.

Just how broadly or narrowly is Heller to be read? This idea is not as simple as it may seem.

Apart from the clear and categorical holding that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is an individual right unconnected with one’s service in a militia—ostensibly knocking down once and for all time the erroneous idea often still propounded by some that the Second Amendment refers to a “collective right”—the Court addressed another matter that directly impacts the New Jersey Senate bill.

The Heller Court said——

“In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

Does the New Jersey Senate bill square with the Heller holding? And, if it doesn’t, what is the impetus for the New Jersey Legislature drafting the thing at all?

Let’s take a closer look at the bill as written.

A preliminary “Statement” of intent, in the bill, reads in pertinent part as follows:

“This bill, titled the ‘New Jersey Safe Storage of Firearms Act,’ establishes penalties for improper storage of a firearm that results in access of the firearm; requires a warning to be issued to firearms purchasers; and requires the Attorney General to establish a public awareness campaign regarding the risk associated with improper storage of a firearm. The bill also repeals the provisions of current law that establish penalties only for a minor’s access of an improperly stored firearm, and makes an appropriation.

Under current law, there are storage requirements and penalties imposed if a minor accesses a loaded firearm that is not in use. However, there currently are no general requirements for storing firearms when they are not in use.

This bill requires a legal owner of a firearm to: (1) store or secure a firearm that is not in use at a premises under the owner’s control unloaded, in a gun safe or securely locked box or container; and (2) store ammunition, separately, in a securely locked box or container.

Under the bill, if the owner of a firearm fails to store the firearm properly as required under the bill, the owner will, for a first offense, be sentenced to period of community service of not less than 10 hours and not more than 40 hours. For a second or subsequent offense, the owner is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. If an improperly stored firearm is accessed by another person, and the access results in serious bodily injury to or the death of the person who accesses the firearm or another person, the owner is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by up to 18 months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.”

The language of the bill, proper, says in pertinent part:

A legal owner of a firearm shall:

  • store or secure a firearm that is not in use at a premises under the owner’s control, unloaded, in a gun safe or securely locked box or container; and
  • store ammunition, separately, in a securely locked box or container.

The bill also imposes requirements on the firearms dealer:

The Superintendent of State Police, in conjunction with the Attorney General, shall adopt guidelines in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to require each licensed retail firearms dealer in the State, or the retail dealer’s employee, to provide to any person who receives, possesses, carries, or uses a firearm, a written warning printed on eight and one-half inches by 11 inches in size paper in not less than 14 point bold point type letters which shall state:

“New Jersey State Law Requires That All Firearms Must Be Stored, Unloaded, In A Securely Locked Gun Safe Or Locked Container, And All Ammunition Must Be Stored In A Separate, Securely Locked Gun Safe Or Locked Container. Failure To Do So Is Punishable By Law And Could Result In Fines And Imprisonment.”

The written warning provided pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall include the requirements and penalties imposed pursuant to P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

The superintendent shall provide each licensed retail firearms dealer with a sign to be displayed prominently at a conspicuous place on the dealer’s business premises at each purchase counter. The sign shall contain the statutory reference to section 3 of P.L., c. (C.). . . .”

Left unsaid in the bill, is how the New Jersey Government is to know whether or how a person stores a firearm in his house?

Is a New Jersey police officer to be given carte blanche authority to check on this? If so, would this not violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures?

But the more pressing issue is whether NJ S.B. 3757 is, on its face, patently illegal. Is the bill inconsistent with the Heller holding pertaining to one’s right of immediate access to a firearm in the home for the purpose of self-defense? It would seem so. But there is a problem.

Just how broadly, in regard to immediate access to a firearm in one’s home, is Heller to be taken? We look at this in the next segment, and consider the ramifications of Heller, for Bruen.


About The Arbalest Quarrel:

Arbalest Group created `The Arbalest Quarrel’ website for a special purpose. That purpose is to educate the American public about recent Federal and State firearms control legislation. No other website, to our knowledge, provides as deep an analysis or as thorough an analysis. Arbalest Group offers this information free.

For more information, visit: www.arbalestquarrel.com.

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