May 15, 2020

In New Jersey, following a number of lawsuits seeking the reopening of firearm retailers and Governor Murphy’s subsequent decision to add them to the essential services list, shooting ranges have filed a lawsuit in New Jersey this week over their right to reopen to the public. Owners and operators of shooting ranges are seeing tennis courts and golf courses across the state reopening to the public but there is no relief in sight for the ranges.  There is no real dispute — outdoor shooting ranges can easily be frequented while maintaining employee and patrons’ safety and adhering to social distancing guidelines. In addition to shooting ranges (Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs), the lawsuit was also brought by a first-time firearm owner that purchased her handgun for self-defense but has had no opportunity to familiarize herself with her handgun.  The complaint maintains that the rights afforded to an individual under the Second Amendment also protects the right to become proficient in firearms use for lawful purposes.  After all, what use is a firearm for self-defense if you do not know how to use it?  The complaint remarks that: “Plaintiffs recognize that the pandemic presents significant and urgent problems for state officials seeking to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens of New Jersey.  But the State’s untenable regulatory choices refute any assertion that COVID-19 requires New Jersey to shut down all outdoor gun ranges.”  Moreover, the complaint points out that Second Amendment rights are being infringed “at the precise moment when the right to keep and bear arms is most essential….[due to the] unprecedented social disruption due to the COVID-19 emergency.” 

We will be following this lawsuit closely -including any potential change of position taken by Governor Murphy.  For additional information or questions on this or related issues, please contact John Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.