Coming in on the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision on “Constitutional Carry,” another ruling has been passed down. This time targeting a law on the books in New Jersey. New Jersey’s government has a long history of passing gun control measures. However, in recent history, they have passed some laws that target off-duty and retired law enforcement officers regarding their right to carry concealed.
In 2020 a group of retired law enforcement officers, with the help of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), decided to take the state of New Jersey to Court. The group felt that the state was going against the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act, a federal law that allows officers to carry while off duty in any state.
Specifically, the state of New Jersey ruled that retired law enforcement officers had to apply for a specific permit to carry concealed. The law also targeted the ammunition they were allowed to carry and barred them from defensive loads such as jacketed hollow points.
According to the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act, officers are allowed to carry weapons so long as they have an agency-issued identification. This law supersedes any state regulations on firearms and the right to carry. However, the state of New Jersey saw it differently. It felt the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act did NOT give retired officers the right to carry concealed without a state-issued permit.
The state reacted to the lawsuit by the FLEOA by attempting to have the charges dismissed. An amicus brief was filed by the NRA-ILA and the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs in support of the officers. However, the state-backed off withdrew its call for dismissal and made changes on its website to reflect being in support of the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act.
However, a non-binding change to policy was not enough, according to a federal judge, who had this to say (and rule) on the matter:
“The Court finds that (Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act) LEOSA preempts the Permit Scheme and prohibition on hollow point ammunition as-applied to Plaintiffs and QRLEOs who already have ‘identification’ …. [T]he Court hereby declares that [those restrictions] violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.”