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Media Alerts - Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs v. Governor of the State of New Jersey - Third Circuit
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January 31, 2013
  Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs v. Governor of the State of New Jersey - Third Circuit
Headline: New Jersey's One-Gun-Per-Month Statute Does Not Violate U.S. Law

Area of Law: Constitutional Law

Brief Summary: The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs challenged a New Jersey statute that restricted individuals to the purchase of one hand gun per month (the "One Gun Law"). The law was challenged on the basis that it was preempted by a federal statute and that it violated Plaintiff's due process rights. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the preemption challenge because the federal statute in question does not ban regulation of handgun sales, it merely prevents states from outlawing sales of certain guns entirely. It also rejected the due process challenge, saying that even if the Plaintiffs had a property right in the law's available exemptions, the process of applying for that exemption was not so onerous as to deprive them of the right.

Extended Summary: The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, along with several individuals, sued to invalidate a New Jersey law that limited individuals to purchasing no more than one handgun per month. They challenged the law on two separate grounds. First, they claimed that the law was preempted by a federal statute. That statute prohibits states from outlawing the sale of BB, paint ball, and other air guns. The plaintiffs argued that, because the New Jersey law prohibited the sale of more than one handgun a month, and because the New Jersey definition of "handgun" included BB, paint ball and other air guns, the law was in conflict with the federal statute, and was therefore invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. However, the Third Circuit found that the federal statute merely forbids the total prohibition of such sales, not their regulation. Therefore the federal statute and the New Jersey statute are not in conflict, and the federal statute does not preempt the New Jersey law.

The Plaintiffs also argued that the New Jersey law is unconstitutional because it violated their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. The law would be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment if it deprived the plaintiffs of a property right without first affording them due process of law. The New Jersey statute allowed for certain exemptions from the One Gun Law for gun collectors and competitive shooters. The Plaintiffs believed they had a property right in those exemptions, and that they were deprived of that right because the process for obtaining an exemption made it too difficult to ever actually obtain one. The Court, however, determined that the basic application process, which includes filling out a form listing the handguns the applicant wants to purchase, was not so onerous so as to deprive the Plaintiffs of any property interest they might have.

The plaintiffs did not argue that the One Gun Law was unconstitutional because it infringed on their right to bear arms, which is protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Panel: Chief Judge McKee, Circuit Judge Sloviter, and Circuit Judge Vanaskie

Date of Issued Opinion: 01/30/2013

Docket Number: 12-1624

Decided: Affirmed.

Case Alert Author: Michael Jervis

Counsel: Daniel L. Schmutter for Appellants, Craig M. Pogosky , Gregory M. Spellmeyer, Robert T. Lougy, Roshan D. Shah for Appellees.

Author of Opinion: Circuit Judge Sloviter

Circuit: 3d Circuit

Link to Full Opinion:

Edited: 02/04/2013 at 03:02 PM by Media Alerts Moderator

    Posted By: Susan DeJarnatt @ 01/31/2013 03:01 PM     3rd Circuit  

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