New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- As you may already know, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) is engaged in litigation against the State of New Jersey Division of State Police in an effort to receive a copy of the “New Jersey State Police Firearms Applicant Investigation Guide” (I know, try saying THAT three times fast).
Three years ago we began a quest to obtain a copy. It started out simply enough. We wrote to the then head of the NJSP Firearms Unit and asked for a copy. We were denied.
For those of you who may be scratching your head and asking, “Why on Nature’s Good Green Earth did we want such a thing”, I will answer that many of the NJ municipalities were using the “Guide” as an excuse for the unlawful practices of their police departments.
We would receive calls from a member who would say, “Why do I need a notarized copy of a letter from my spouse approving my application for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FID)”, or a similar question. When we would call the offending municipality for clarification, we were told that “We are only following the procedures in the New Jersey State Police Firearms Applicants Investigation Guide” (due to my arthritis henceforth to be referred to simply as the “Guide).
Upon explaining to the NJSP Unit Head how the Guide was being used, we were told that no copy would be forthcoming under any circumstances.
Undeterred, we submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the Guide. Our OPRA request was denied. Through a series of fortuitous events, we were able to identify and enlist the aid of an OPRA attorney Rick Gutman. He agree to take the case and we filed a complaint against the New Jersey State Police in the Superior Court of New Jersey. As is usual, there were a flurry of briefs travelling back and forth between the NJ State’s Attorney’s office and that of Mr. Gutman. It was over a year later after several delays and maneuvers by the state before we were able to have our day in court.
It should be noted that previous to all of this, Governor Christie had issued an Executive Order (EO) exempting certain departments of the state government from the need to respond to OPRA requests if such requests would result in divulging certain “sensitive” information about ongoing investigations, personnel and/or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manuals. Whether or not it was intentional, this EO has been used as “cover” by a myriad of public agencies unwilling to share what should be public information with said public.
Without going into detail, the Superior Court Judge ruled in the state’s favor based on a juggling act that somehow portrayed the Guide as a “map” of how to get around the requirements for applying for an FID and/or Handgun Purchase Permit. It goes without saying that this was most DEFINITELY an inaccurate portrayal of the Guide. We, of course, immediately appealed this decision. In the meantime, the ACLU had a similar case that they wished to appeal. Rather than have to deal with them separately, the Appellate Division decided to combine the two appeals and we began working together with the ACLU to strike down these decisions.
As you can imagine, this “dance of a million briefs” went on for over another year, at which point the AG’s office agreed, in theory, to amend certain portions of their rulings as to make the concerns of the ACLU “moot” (basically no longer relevant). With the ACLU presumably out of the mix, they erroneously believed that they were free to summarily IGNORE the pending concerns of the NJ2AS. Rick picked up on the direction this was going and conferred with the attorneys representing the ACLU who were somewhat bemused by the idea since they had not yet received any notification of just WHICH points would be rendered moot and could not say whether or not they were even willing to ACCEPT the amendments offered by the courts.
Long story even longer, Upon further investigation, our attorney was able to discover that copies of submissions made by the AG’s office that were required to be sent to him for his consideration were not mailed to him in a timely manner and almost resulted in the loss of our rights to continue this matter.
Needless to say, we have notified the courts of this breach, and the saga continues.
Here is the bottom line. Even though you may not be aware of all of the activities that are going on in the background, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society is consistently working to alter the mishandling of our Second Amendment protected rights. Unlike some organizations, we do not do a great deal of horn tooting, however, I wanted to let you know that our appeal is still alive and we still very much intend to win this case on appeal.
THE NJ2AS IS AN ALL-VOLUNTEER GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION. NO ONE RECEIVES A SALARY AND ALL PROCEEDS GO BACK INTO THE MISSION.
IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE MISSION OF THE NJ2AS, PLEASE DONATE! www.nj2as.com/donate1
You can also mail your donations to:
P.O. Box 128
Manahawkin, NJ 08050
Frank Jack Fiamingo
President – NJ2AS
New Jersey Second Amendment Society – Our mission is to promote the free exercise of Second Amendment rights within the community and Legislature of New Jersey, to educate the community regarding the enjoyable, safe, and responsible use of firearms, and to engender a sense of camaraderie and fellowship among the members and their families. Visit: www.nj2as.com