NJCSD member Dan Roberts recently had the opportunity to editorialize on possible changes to New Jersey's gun laws. You can read it here.
However, being that we're dealing with a New Jersey news provider with limited space, what you got was a very abbreviated version that, as a result, was missing a few salient points. What follows is Dan's original article in full, which may help fill in a few blanks.
The question posed to the author was, "In light of federal court decisions striking down gun restrictions in Chicago and Washington, D.C., do you believe New Jersey will have to change some of its strict gun laws?"
Most certainly. For the last forty years the legislature, via a combination of ignorance, arrogance and no small measure of hoplophobia has finally managed to box itself into a corner with regard to the way it treats the fundamental right to firearms as codified in the Second Amendment. The entire foundation of New Jersey’s blatantly unconstitutional gun laws is found in a 1968 State Supreme Court decision; Burton v. Sills. This decision relied on an intellectually bankrupt and now discarded interpretation of the Second Amendment as pertaining only to “the militia” or National Guard. This definition is more commonly known as the “collectivist interpretation” which was eliminated once and for all in the 2008 Supreme Court case Heller v. DC.
In light of last year’s Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago, in which the Court properly found that the Second Amendment is a fundamental right just as important as the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights; and, was binding against the states via the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, New Jersey is now in an untenable and completely indefensible position with regard to its firearms laws as they are currently written.
There are several glaring issues that as a matter of law will be overturned by a Federal Court. First and foremost, NJ firearms laws are written in such a way that bans ALL firearms and related items, and then proceed to carve out extremely technical and narrow exemptions to that blanket ban. The current legislative language is so convoluted and incomprehensible that even judges and law enforcement officials don’t understand it, as the recent case of Brian Aitken in Mt. Laurel so clearly illustrated.
Additionally, numerous Court decisions over the last several decades have consistently found that no legislature may write laws that are effectively a wholesale ban on the practice of fundamental rights, regardless of how much some people may not like the result of people’s exercising them.