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NJ Handgun Restrictions Won’t Go to High Court

WASHINGTON (CN) - A law upholding New Jersey gun restrictions will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition Monday by the Second Amendment Foundation.

New Jersey's Handgun Permit Law, codified at Section 2C:58-4, requires residents to apply to the chief police officer in their municipality or to the superintendent of the state police if they want a permit to carry a handgun in public.

Applicants must satisfy certain criminal history, age and mental health requirements; that they are thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns; and that they have a justifiable need to carry a handgun.

Four individuals led by John Drake joined the Second Amendment Foundation and another group in challenging the law's constitutionality, but a federal judge dismissed their action and the 3rd Circuit affirmed in July 2013.

Though the court recognized "that the Second Amendment's individual right to bear arms may have some application beyond the home," the three-judge panel said the answer to that question was not necessary to its conclusion.

"Assuming that the Second Amendment confers upon individuals some right to carry arms outside the home, we would nevertheless conclude that the 'justifiable need' standard of the Handgun Permit Law is a longstanding regulation that enjoys presumptive constitutionality under the teachings articulated in Heller and expanded upon in our court's precedent," the decision stated, citing the Supreme Court's landmark decision on gun rights District of Columbia v. Heller. "Accordingly, it regulates conduct falling outside the scope of the Second Amendment's guarantee," the judges added.

Here the gun-rights challengers failed to show that the law imposes a burden upon them that outweighs the state's interest in public safety, the court found.

"In essence, New Jersey's schema takes into account the individual's right to protect himself from violence as well as the community at large's interest in self-protection," the decision states. "It is New Jersey's judgment that when an individual carries a handgun in public for his or her own defense, he or she necessarily exposes members of the community to a somewhat heightened risk that they will be injured by that handgun. New Jersey has decided that this somewhat heightened risk to the public may be outweighed by the potential safety benefit to an individual with a "justifiable need" to carry a handgun. Furthermore, New Jersey has decided that it can best determine when the individual benefit outweighs the increased risk to the community through careful case-by-case scrutiny of each application, by the police and a court."

The Supreme Court denied the challengers a writ of certiorari Monday and did not issue any comment in doing so, per its custom.

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