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Burton v. Sills

Decided: February 10, 1967.

L. ARTHUR BURTON, LOUIS A. BENTON, EDMOND H. SHULER, AL L. TOTH, HERMAN TREPTOW, GEORGE SCHIELKE AND CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR FIREARMS LEGISLATION, A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ARTHUR J. SILLS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND COLONEL DAVID B. KELLY, SUPERINTENDENT OF STATE POLICE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS



Leahy, J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).

Leahy

This is a motion for summary judgment brought by defendants Arthur J. Sills, Attorney General of New Jersey, and Colonel David B. Kelly, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, seeking an order dismissing, with prejudice, the complaint of plaintiffs L. Arthur Burton, Louis A. Benton, Edmond H. Shuler, Al L. Toth, Herman Treptow, George Schielke and the Citizens Committee for Firearms Legislation, a corporation of the State of New Jersey, or for such other relief as the court may grant.

The complaint demands judgment: (a) temporarily enjoining defendants and each of them, their agents and servants, pending the final determination of this cause, from enforcing or in any manner implementing the enforcement of the provisions of chapter 60 of the Laws of 1966; (b) permanently enjoining such enforcement; (c) declaring chapter 60 unconstitutional and void, and (d) seeking such other relief as to the court may seem just and proper.

Request (a) was disposed of by the Appellate Division when it entered an order reversing the trial court's issuance of an interlocutory injunction.

The main thrust of the complaint concerns that part of the statute bringing rifles and shotguns within its purview. It might be pointed out that these items were subject to certain statutory provisions prior to the enactment of chapter 60. See N.J.S. 2A:151-2, 5 through 9, and 19 through 23. The new law extends the regulation of rifles and shotguns to sales. N.J.S. 2A:151-32 et seq., the carrying on of non-exempted activities, N.J.S. 2A:151-41, and the licensing of retail dealers, N.J.S. 2A:151-24 et seq.

Plaintiffs assert in their complaint, among other things, that the Superintendent of State Police's power to prescribe certain standards for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers

of firearms is without limits set by the Legislature; the standards set forth in the statute, which an applicant for a firearms purchaser card must meet, are not established with sufficient clarity, but are left to the discretion of the local chief of police; the provisions for disqualification of an applicant do not set forth adequate standards for police officials to follow; the statute fails to protect the rights of individuals dealt with; the statute impedes the hunters' safety program in New Jersey; the requirement that an applicant give detailed information to the authorities is an invasion of privacy; the statute interferes with the flow of interstate commerce; it violates plaintiffs' rights under the First, Second, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and finally, the statute violates plaintiffs' rights under Article I of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey.

Plaintiffs complain that standards and qualifications are to be prescribed by the Superintendent of State Police for manufacturers, wholesalers, and retail dealers of firearms, and that he is given broad powers without legislative direction or specification. N.J.S. 2A:151-19 provides that as to manufacturers and wholesalers:

"The superintendent shall prescribe standards and qualifications for registration of manufacturers and wholesalers of firearms, for the protection of the public safety, health and welfare. If the superintendent is satisfied that an applicant for registration cannot be permitted to carry on business as a manufacturer or wholesale dealer in firearms without danger to the public health, safety or welfare, he may refuse to register the applicant."

N.J.S. 2A:151-24 provides that:

"The superintendent shall prescribe standards and qualifications for retail dealers of firearms for the protection of the ...


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