Increase in Gun Carry Permit Demands in New Jersey After U.S. Supreme Court Revised Firearm Laws

According to new data, almost 33,000 persons filed for a carry permit in New Jersey within 20 months of the court’s landmark decision known as Bruen. (Aristide Economopoulos for the NJ Monitor)

Applications for handgun permits in New Jersey increased dramatically after a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned the state’s tough weapons regulations, making it simpler to obtain the licenses, according to a new database released by the Attorney General’s Office.

In the 20 months following the court’s landmark ruling known as Bruen, approximately 33,000 persons filed for a carry permit in New Jersey, according to the database launched Thursday.

Police stations received over 1,500 applications per month from those seeking the permit, a nearly 3,000% increase from the average of 50 applications received monthly prior to the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision. Since the Bruen decision, Newark has received more permit applications than any other New Jersey town, with the vast majority of petitioners being white and male.

Increase in Gun Carry Permit Demands in New Jersey After U.S. Supreme Court Revised Firearm Laws

In 2022, State Police Commissioner Col. Patrick Callahan anticipated that more than 200,000 gun owners across the state would petition for carry permits in the wake of Bruen.

The new data comes as the state continues to face a judicial challenge to Governor Phil Murphy’s comprehensive gun legislation, which was signed into law in December 2022. New Jersey, which has some of the most stringent weapon safety rules in the country, saw its previous tough gun prohibitions overturned as a result of Bruen.

The new New Jersey legislation prohibits weapons in schools, polling places, beaches, clubs, parks, hospitals, and a variety of other “sensitive” areas designated by lawmakers. It also increased permission fees, required permit carriers to produce proof of liability insurance, and expanded carry permit requirements.

Much of the law has been blocked since it was passed, and it was promptly challenged in court by pro-gun groups who said it violated Bruen’s rights. A federal judge blocked its enforcement early last year, and in June, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the injunction pending a thorough determination on the law’s constitutionality.

The new display is mandated under an order given by Attorney General Matt Platkin in June 2023, which requires police departments to transmit gun permit data to the state and store it in a consolidated database. It includes permission data from December 1, 2019 to February 2, 2024.

“Transparency is essential to improving public safety. The data available on this dashboard enables users to acquire a sense of where in New Jersey applications for guns licenses are increasing,” Platkin said in a statement.

Scott Bach, executive director of the New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, chastised the authorities for monitoring residents who he claimed were only exercising their constitutional rights.

“Self-defense-hating bureaucrats are preoccupied with wasting government resources collecting statistics on law-abiding gun owners rather than prosecuting violent criminals. “If they spent half the time they spend harassing legal gun owners on reducing violent crime, we would live in a much safer society,” he said.

Bach’s group is among the plaintiffs suing the state’s firearms ban. He believes the figures demonstrate that gun owners across the state are waiting for the litigation to be resolved before applying for permits.

Mary Kenah, policy counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety, stated that the increase in applications is a “stark reminder” of why New Jersey lawmakers took legislative action.

“It’s too soon to say whether this trend in increased permit applications will continue, but we’re grateful to the Attorney General for collecting and publicizing this data so that we have it for years to come,” the attorney general said in a statement.

Carry permit applications in New Jersey spiked shortly after the Bruen judgment was issued.

Residents of Ocean, Monmouth, and Bergen counties account for approximately one-quarter of all applications filed since then. Newark leads the list of New Jersey municipalities with 755 applications, followed by Toms River with 742, Washington Township with 536, Old Bridge with 428, and Ocean Township with 413. Residents living outside of New Jersey sought for 1,369 permits.

Men are far more likely than women to apply for a carry permit, with over 31,000 applications versus 2,100 for women. White guys are more likely to apply for a carry permit. More than 26,000 candidates are white, 3,800 are black, 1,377 are Hispanic, and 766 are Asian-American Pacific Islanders. Most applicants are aged 50 to 59.

Approximately 250 applicants were denied, with more than half of them citing “public health, safety, and welfare” concerns. Others were denied due to criminal histories, domestic violence allegations, a history of drinking, or mental or physical problems.

State officials stated that the dashboard will be updated on a monthly basis.

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