On appeal from the New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Monmouth County, G.P. App. No. 2011-01.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ostrer, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 23, 2012
Before Judges Messano, Ostrer and Kennedy.
The opinion of the court was delivered by OSTRER, J.A.D.
Richard Pantano appeals from the trial court's October 31, 2011 denial of his application for a permit to carry a firearm under N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4. The Manalapan Township Police Chief had approved Pantano's application in December 2010 and the State appealed. In a written opinion, Judge Francis P. DeStefano concluded after a testimonial hearing that Pantano had not demonstrated "a justifiable need to carry a handgun." N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4(d). Pantano asserts the court erred in finding no justifiable need, and, in the alternative, he argues the justifiable need requirement infringes his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. U.S. Const. amend. II. We affirm.
We first address Pantano's challenge to the court's finding there was no justifiable need. We discern the following facts from the record.
Pantano owns a landscape supply business with annual gross receipts of $12 million, of which close to $2 million is paid in cash. At the hearing, Pantano testified about the typical transaction in his business:
[A] contractor would come in and order, place an order for the materials he would need. Most of the time the materials are paver materials which are heavy, neighborhood of 2,000 pounds per pallet, so it's unrealistic for the contractor to be able to pick up his material. So our delivery system is what we use to take the materials to the contractor.
Most of the contractors today are working on very tight budgets, and they're working with cash much more than ever. So we are now delivering the product a lot of times after hours when the contractors receive their deposits from the homeowners, [who] tend to be home between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Pantano explained that he personally delivered materials. He would exchange paperwork and receive cash payments, sometimes ranging between $7000 to $18,000, which he would count in front of the customer and the customer's employees, some day-workers with whom even the customer was not familiar. He testified that while most of his deliveries were in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties, he traveled throughout the State and sometimes outside it. He sought the permit to protect himself - as opposed to his cash - from a potential robbery. His concern was heightened by the state of the economy; he believed people were more desperate and willing to resort to crime. He was also concerned because many individuals, some strangers, were aware of when and where he would be in possession of large amounts of cash, creating repeated opportunities for a robbery.
Pantano explained that his willingness to "work[ ] with the contractor" by accepting cash and making deliveries at the customers' convenience, which many companies did not do, helped boost his business's growth. He stated that if he required payment in advance, by non-cash means, or at his office after delivery, some customers either would decline to do business with him or fail to pay him for the goods sold. He deposited cash at his bank as many as two or three times a day. Pantano asserted it would be ...