Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, Inc. v. Christie

June 14, 2010

ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY RIFLE AND PISTOL CLUBS, INC., ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHRISTOPHER CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pisano, District Judge.

OPINION

Plaintiffs Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, Inc., ("ANJRPC"), Scott Bach, Kaare Johnson, Vincent Furio, Steven Yagiello and Bob's Little Sport Shop, Inc. (collectively, "Plaintiffs") bring this action challenging recent amendments to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-2 and 2C:58-3, referred to as the "One Gun Law" or the "One Handgun a Month Law," (hereinafter the "One Gun Law") which restricts the sale of handguns to one per thirty day period. Presently before the Court are the following motions: (1) Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction; (2) the State of New Jersey's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6); and (3) the City of Hackensack's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(B)(1), 12(b)(6), and 12(h)(3). For the reasons below, Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction is denied, and the State of New Jersey's motion to dismiss is granted with respect to Counts One and Two. As to the remaining issues, the parties are directed to submit supplemental briefing as set forth below.

I. Background

In or about August 2009, the One Gun Law was enacted. The law amended N.J.S.A. 2C:58-2(a) to provide that a "dealer" could not "deliver more than one handgun to any person within a 30-day period." It also amended N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3 to provide that "no more than one handgun shall be purchased within any 30-day period." N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(i). These changes were effective as of January 1, 2010.

Also in or about January 2010, amendments were enacted that created certain exemptions to One Gun Law. Included were exemptions relating to inheritance or intestacy, collecting, and competitive shooting. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3.4. In order to qualify for one of these exemptions, the statute provides that an applicant must certify, "on a form prescribed by the [S]uperintendent [of the State Police], the exemption sought along with documentation in support of the exemption." N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3.4(b). These amendments became effective January 3, 2010 and January 12, 2010, respectively. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit shortly thereafter, on January 17, 2010.

Counts One and Two of the amended complaint (hereinafter "complaint") allege that the One Gun Law is void because it is preempted by 15 U.S.C. § 5001(g)(ii), which provides that "[n]o State shall... prohibit the sale... of traditional B-B, paint ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure." Count Three, Four and Five allege that the lack of a procedure*fn1 to obtain one of the enumerated exemptions to the One Gun Law violates Plaintiffs' due process rights under the United States and New Jersey Constitutions. Counts Seven and Eight allege that certain individual plaintiffs were unlawfully denied the right to apply for multiple handgun purchase permits at one time by the defendant municipalities.*fn2 The motions presently before the Court center on the claims raised in Counts 1, 2, 7 and 8. See Transcript of Proceedings, May 25, 2010 ("Tr.") at 9 (counsel explaining that due to recent developments Court does not have full record before it as to Counts 3 through 6).

II. Analysis

A. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of the One Gun Law and an injunction enjoining municipal defendants from restricting the number of handgun purchase permits an individual may apply for at one time. In evaluating a motion for preliminary injunctive relief, a court must consider whether: "'(1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) denial will result in irreparable harm to the plaintiff; (3) granting the injunction will not result in irreparable harm to the defendant; and (4) granting the injunction is in the public interest."' NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises, Inc., 176 F.3d 151, 153 (3d Cir.1999) (quoting Maldonado v. Houstoun, 157 F.3d 179, 184 (3d Cir.1998)).

A preliminary injunction "should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Masurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). Preliminary injunctive relief is an "extraordinary and drastic remedy", id., which "should issue only if the plaintiff produces evidence sufficient to convince the district court that all four factors favor preliminary relief." American Tel. and Tel. Co. v. Winback and Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421, 1427 (3d Cir.1994). "The burden lies with the plaintiff to establish every element in its favor, or the grant of a preliminary injunction is inappropriate." P.C. Yonkers, Inc. v. Celebrations the Party and Seasonal Superstore, LLC, 428 F.3d 504, 508 (3d Cir. 2005).

Turning to the first element of the preliminary injunction analysis, likelihood of success on the merits, Plaintiffs first argue that the One Gun Law should be enjoined because it is preempted by the Federal Toy gun Law and is, therefore void. Federal preemption of state law finds its basis in Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which states that "the Laws of the United States... shall be the supreme Law of the Land... any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2. However, despite the broad language of this clause, courts do not readily assume preemption. Madeira v. Affordable Housing Foundation, Inc., 469 F.3d 219, 238 (2d Cir. 2006). Rather, "in the absence of compelling congressional direction," courts will not infer that "Congress ha[s] deprived the States of the power to act." Id. (quoting New York Tel. Co. v. New York State Dep't of Labor, 440 U.S. 519, 540 (1979)). When, as in this case, the state law at issue involves the historic police power of the States, "courts start with the assumption that these powers are not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress." Id. (internal quotations omitted) (citing Jones, 430 U.S. at 525).

The Supreme Court has noted that "[t]he criterion for determining whether state and federal laws are so inconsistent that the state law must give way is firmly established..." Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 526 (1977). The task of a court is to "to determine whether under the circumstances of [a] particular case, (the State's) law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress." Id. Furthermore, in determining whether a conflict exists, a court must "consider the relationship between state and federal laws as they are interpreted and applied, not merely as they are written." Id.; State v. Rackis, 333 N.J. Super 332, 340 (App. Div. 2000). Importantly, "the purpose of Congress is the ultimate touchstone in every pre-emption case." Wyeth v. Levine, -- U.S. --, 129 S.Ct. 1187, 1194 (2009).

As noted earlier, Section 5001(g) provides that "no State shall... (ii) prohibit (other than prohibiting the sale to minors) the sale of traditional B-B, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure." 15 U.S.C. § 5001(g)(ii). The key question here, therefore, is whether the One Gun Law "prohibit[s]" the sale of "B-B, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns" that may fall within its scope (referred to herein as "air-powered handguns").*fn3 Plaintiffs argue that by limiting the purchase of air-powered handguns to one every thirty days, the One Gun Law is a prohibition on the purchase of these firearms that conflicts with § 5001(g)(ii). The State, on the other hand, contends that the One Gun Law does not prohibit but merely regulates the purchase of these guns and, therefore, is not preempted.

The Court agrees that the One Gun Law permissibly regulates, rather than prohibits, the sale of air-powered handguns, and therefore is not in conflict with the Federal Toy Gun Act. As the State points out, the One Gun Law does not ban the sale of such guns -- a person is not prohibited from buying an air-powered handgun today so long as they have a permit to do so. While the One Gun Law does regulate the timing of an individual's ability to purchase air-powered ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.