AG Brnovich Leads Twenty-Three State Brief Asking U.S. Supreme Court to Confirm that Second Amendment Applies Beyond the Home in New Jersey Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today that Arizona, joined with attorneys general and governors from 22 other states, filed a brief to support a request for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the rights of law-abiding individuals to carry firearms outside of their homes. In the Arizona-led filing, the States are asking the nation’s high court to review a recent lower court ruling in Rogers v. Grewal, where the Third Circuit Court of Appeals failed to strike a New Jersey law that restricts an individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense unless the person can demonstrate they have a “justifiable need” to do so.

Thomas R. Rogers is a New Jersey businessman who applied for a handgun carry permit in January 2017. Rogers services ATM machines and carries large amounts of cash as part of his job, often in high-crime areas. Despite passing the required background checks, completing a firearm training course, and meeting all of the other eligibility requirements necessary to obtain a public carry permit, Rogers was denied the exercise of his right to carry because his local police chief decided he did not have a "justifiable need" under New Jersey's law.

The States argue in their brief that similar prohibitive Second Amendment schemes have been struck down as unconstitutional in multiple circuit courts, and New Jersey’s subjective-issue regime for approving handgun carry permits infringes upon and restricts an individual’s ability to lawfully and effectively carry a firearm outside the home. The States are asking the Supreme Court to take up the case and protect the rights of law-abiding individuals to bear arms.

“Your constitutional rights don't end when you walk outside your front door,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “We have a guaranteed bill of rights in this country, not a bill of needs. Similar laws attempting to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens have already been ruled unconstitutional across the country and New Jersey's de facto ban should be overturned as well.”

There are 42 states that currently employ objective “shall-issue” firearm permitting standards that include qualifying requirements such as fingerprinting, background checks, review of mental health records, training in the safe operation of firearms, and/or knowledge of laws regarding the use of force. New Jersey, however, employs a “may-issue” standard that allows individuals within the government to subjectively restrict citizens from carrying a firearm outside of their home, even if they meet all of the other eligibility requirements of the law.  

In July 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Hawaii law similar to New Jersey’s, determining that the Second Amendment protects the right to openly bear arms in public for self-defense purposes, and stating that “the right to bear arms must guarantee some right to self-defense in public.” And, the D.C. Circuit overturned a District law that limited the issuance of handgun carry licenses to only individuals who could demonstrate a specific threat or a danger to their life.

Joining Arizona in the brief are the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky (via Governor Bevin), Louisiana, Mississippi (via Governor Bryant), Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read a copy of the filing.