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Will New Jersey be affected when the Supreme Court rules on New York's gun laws?


The Senate appears close to passing a compromise package of very narrow gun safety measures. But as that is happening, the Supreme Court is poised to hand down a ruling that could stop six states from limiting who gets to carry weapons outside their home. The decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen will be the first major ruling on the Second Amendment by the high court in over a decade. New Jersey has some of the strictest firearm restrictions in the country, and it's one of the states that would be affected by this ruling. With us now is Matthew Platkin, acting attorney general for New Jersey. Welcome to the program, and good morning.

MATTHEW PLATKIN: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So let's start with what's at stake for your state in the court's ruling here.

PLATKIN: Look; I think, Leila, none of us have a crystal ball.

FADEL: Right.

PLATKIN: But the writing's on the wall. You know, the current majority of the Supreme Court is likely to issue a decision that significantly reduces our ability to protect our state from the epidemic of gun violence. And this has been a movement in this country to hamstring state firearm safety policies. And there's no question that any decision that restricts our concealed-carry regulations, which I believe are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment - in New York's case, it's been around for over a hundred years - this decision would undermine public safety.

FADEL: Now, if the Supreme Court strikes down these may-carry restrictions, what exactly changes in New Jersey?

PLATKIN: Well, I think, first and foremost, you would still need a permit to carry a firearm, and I hope everybody realizes that. But the justifiable need requirement, which is the strictest part of our concealed-carry permit law, that could potentially be struck down by this decision. And so what that would mean is in New Jersey, more people would be able to have a concealed-carry permit. You know, what works in Wyoming doesn't necessarily work in the densest state in the country and particularly in our urban centers, places where people take mass transit, places where people live and work in very close proximity, and confrontations with concealed carry - when concealed carry is much more available, those confrontations become more violent and potentially more deadly.

FADEL: So you're worried about public safety. What does your office plan to do if the law is struck down?

PLATKIN: Well, obviously, we have to review what the court says, but we have teams preparing for any policy changes or litigation once we get the Bruen decision, and we'll advise officials accordingly. And I have to thank Governor Murphy, who has been a leader on gun safety efforts since his time in office. And he has a package of legislative reforms that are currently being considered by the Legislature. But I just have to be clear, again - this is a decision and this case is considering a law that's been around for over a century. The court has said in its other gun cases that it cares about the history of these laws. And this is a law - and our law is similar - that has been around for a very long time without constitutional challenge. And it would tremendously impact our ability to keep New Jerseyans safe if we lose the justifiable needs requirement.

FADEL: In the few seconds we have left, what do you say to gun activists who say, why shouldn't trained, law-abiding New Jersey gun owners have the right to conceal-carry?

PLATKIN: I would say that sensible regulations on firearms have been entirely consistent with the Second Amendment for a very long time, and they are part of a constellation of laws that we have that keep people safe. We have one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country, and that's a result of our strong gun safety laws. And the court should defer to law enforcement experts.

FADEL: Matthew Platkin, acting attorney general for the state of New Jersey. Thank you so much.

PLATKIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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