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Challenges Expected in 'Right to Carry' Case

A former top advisor to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the State of New Jersey is expected to intervene in a lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court intends to consider that asserts the constitutional right to carry a weapon outside the home.

William J. Castner

In an interview recorded for the Tempo and the Times podcast co-hosted by former Gov. Jim Florio with myself and Scott Ramminger, attorney William J. Castner says he also expects other states to join in opposition to the lawsuit against the long-standing New York law that prohibits unrestricted open carry of firearms.

The court announced April 26 that it will hear the challenge to the century-old law in its next term beginning in October. The restriction requires those who seek a permit to carry a concealed weapon to show a special need for self-defense and is similar to laws in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and elsewhere that the court previously has declined to review.

Castner, now a partner in the Connell Foley law firm based in Cherry Hill, NJ, joined the firm after serving as senior advisor to the governor on firearms in the Murphy administration. In this regard, he advised on legal, regulatory and policy alternatives to help reduce gun violence in New Jersey.

Castner says he worries that the conservative U.S. Supreme Court could, in effect, “wipe out a very strong law” that guards against unregulated open carry of firearms in New Jersey. “I don’t want my kids going to Six Flags and have the person next to them carrying a firearm,” he adds.

“If the U.S. Supreme Court were to invalidate the New York law, which is very similar (to New Jersey’s) and has been on the books since 1913, our law would be at risk,” Castner explains. “I talked to the governor today and our attorney general is going to try to intervene in that case because we have serious concerns that our strong gun safety laws would be at risk.”

On the podcast, Florio credits Murphy with helping New Jersey strengthen its gun laws and fight against the “epidemic of gun violence” that is prevalent in our society. Florio is known for successfully resisting the Republican legislature’s efforts to override his veto of legislation that would have repealed the state’s ban on assault weapons during his term as governor.

“In our state we have congested highways, we have crowded mass transit, and it’s not a great recipe to have instant access to firearms in a state like ours,” Castner says. “It’s not terribly complicated. New Jersey has among the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the country, and we have among the lowest per capita gun violence deaths in the country, so it is a situation where access and the proliferation of firearms leads to more gun violence deaths.”

While the state “is doing what we can,” Castner says, “Washington is failing us. Until there is a federal solution, we will be limited in reducing (gun related crime).”

For the complete interview, tune into the podcast here:

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