NEW JERSEY COURT RECOGNIZES SECOND AMENDMENT AND HOLDS THAT IT TRUMPS GUN FORFEITURE LAW
Belvidere, N.J, March 19, 2007—In a landmark written opinion filed
February 27, a New Jersey Superior Court recognized the Second
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and held that a citizen's
Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms cannot be involuntarily
waived under a New Jersey firearms forfeiture law.
"The recognition of Second Amendment rights in New Jersey is long
overdue," said attorney Evan F. Nappen, whose law firm (including
Richard V. Gilbert, Esq. and Louis P. Nappen, Esq.) represented
appellant Dennis W. Peterson in the Warren County case. "In this
appeal, the Second Amendment was applied to New Jersey via the
Constitutional doctrine of fundamental fairness, overcoming a
significant legal hurdle needed for the Federal Bill of Rights to
apply to the State."
This decision coincides with the recent Parker v. District of
Columbia case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District
of Columbia struck down a decades-old handgun ban in Washington,
D.C. on the ground that it violates the Second Amendment.
"The legal significance of the Second Amendment is finally being
recognized by American courts," Nappen continued, "and this New
Jersey case is part of a growing trend in American jurisprudence."
In the New Jersey case, the appellant was denied re-issuance of his
Firearms Purchaser ID card based on his consent to relinquish
firearms seized in a domestic dispute in 2000. In 2004, New Jersey
enacted a law barring Firearms Purchaser ID cards to any person
whose firearms have been seized and not returned.
The Honorable John H. Pursel, J.S.C. held that the statute did not
apply and the Firearms Purchaser ID card should be issued because
the appellant did not know that his prior consent to relinquish his
firearms would subject him to permanent loss of his Second Amendment
rights under the 2004 law.
The ruling states in key part:
"Fundamental fairness is a doctrine to be sparingly applied. It is
appropriately applied in those rare cases where not to do so will
subject the defendant to oppression, harassment, or egregious
deprivation." Doe v. Poritz, 142 N.J. 1 (1995), citing State v.
Yoskowitz, 116 N.J. 679, 712, 563 A.2d 1 (1989) (Garibaldi, J.,
concurring and dissenting). Egregious deprivation would surely be
the result if this applicant were precluded from obtaining a
firearms purchaser identification card by virtue of the fact that he
consensually surrendered his weapons at a time when it was
impossible for him to have known that such action would later
subject him to lifelong deprivation of his second amendment right.
Additionally, it is clear that in consenting to the disposition of
the weapons seized as a result of the temporary restraining order,
the applicant did not intend to waive his right to bear arms as
provided by the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He
therefore could not have knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily
waived that right." (Emphasis added.) Click here for full text.
The Warren County Prosecutor has filed a notice of appeal in the
For more information, contact Evan F. Nappen at 732-389-8888.