“A New Jersey appeals court has concluded that Americans have no Second Amendment right to buy a handgun,” CBS News reports. “[T]he superior court upheld a state law saying that nobody may possess ‘any handgun’ without obtaining law enforcement approval and permission in advance.” Given that the Supreme Court ruled last year in DC v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” this ruling is a bit surprising. New Jersey Appellate Division Judge Stephen Skillman, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, said that Heller “has no impact upon the constitutionality of” the state law.
It’s true that the Supreme Court avoided some larger questions in Heller, even specifically saying that the ruling does “not address the licensing requirement.” However, the Second Amendment to the Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Based on our reading of that plain language, there’s nothing in there about permission from a court or law enforcement for particular arms. We hope the Supreme Court addresses this question when it hears McDonald v. Chicago, challenging Chicago’s handgun ban, later this year.