N.J. Court: State's Residents Have No Right To Buy Handguns
CBSNews.com--A New Jersey appeals court has concluded that Americans have no Second Amendment right to buy a handgun.
In a case decided last week, the superior court upheld a state law saying that nobody may possess "any handgun" without obtaining law enforcement approval and permission in advance.
That outcome might seem like something of a surprise, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year in the D.C. v. Heller case that the Second Amendment guarantees "the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation."
But New Jersey Appellate Division Judge Stephen Skillman wrote on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel that Heller "has no impact upon the constitutionality of" the state law.
That's because, Skillman said, the Supreme Court did not strike down the District of Columbia's de facto handgun ban but instead simply ordered the city to issue a permit. In other words, while Americans may have the right in general to possess arms, the exact contours of that right have not been mapped, especially as the Second Amendment applies to state laws. (The court's majority opinion last year said: "We therefore assume that petitioners' issuance of a license will satisfy respondent's prayer for relief and do not address the licensing requirement.")
Look for the Supreme Court to revisit this question in a few months when it hears a case called McDonald v. Chicago. It's a constitutional challenge to Chicago's restrictive gun laws, which prohibit anyone from possessing firearms -- even in their homes -- "unless such person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for such firearm."
New Jersey's laws are similar. They say: "No person shall sell, give, transfer, assign or otherwise dispose of, nor receive, purchase, or otherwise acquire a handgun unless the purchaser, assignee, donee, receiver or holder... has first secured a permit to purchase a handgun as provided by this section."
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