NJ2AS Files Lawsuit As Part Of Operation Establish Compliance To Gain Access To NJSP’s Firearms Application Guidebook
Manahawkin, New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- The New Jersey Second Amendment Society has filed a lawsuit in Trenton, NJ to gain access to the New Jersey State Police’s Firearms Application Guidebook.
When the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) asked its members and supporters to list the problems that law-abiding gun owners face in New Jersey, the fact that many municipality police departments routinely violate the law when issuing firearms permits ranked at the top.
“Please stop them from telling our employers when we apply for a permit,” “please stop them from illegally collecting our social security numbers,” “please stop them from requiring us to list our adult family members,” “please stop them from taking three to six months to issue our permits,” were some of the complaints that we heard that clearly violate the permitting statutes.
During our investigation of these practices, we were provided with a notice from a township attorney that opined that their local police department was merely following the instructions in the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Firearms Application Guidebook. Local police departments are supposed to follow the New Jersey Administrative Code, not a separate guidebook only given to police departments and never revealed to the public. Furthermore, the statute covering firearms applications (2C:58-3f) specifically prohibits additional requirements.
NJ2AS asked the NJSP Firearms Investigation Unit for a copy of the guidebook and we were refused. We then submitted a Governmental Records Request under both OPRA (Open Public Records Act) and common law right of access for the guidebook. Our official request was denied, citing a recent Executive Order (EO 47, http://www.nj.gov/infobank/circular/eocc47.pdf) which declares new ominous exemptions to OPRA, including one that exempts the entire Department of Law and Public Safety from having to release any records which “may reveal or jeopardize an agency's surveillance, security or investigative techniques or procedures.”
“On the surface, that might sound reasonable, but, once you apply that exemption to a simple, mundane permit application, you have to ask yourself what in the world they are talking about?” stated Frank Jack Fiamingo, co-founder and President of NJ2AS.
“Keep in mind, we are not talking about surveillance of a suspected criminal, or investigating a crime scene. I can’t imagine anything contained in a procedure to process an application that could possibly qualify as an exemption to OPRA, but I can think of many reasons why the public has a right to know those procedures. Especially when the law states that they cannot add any additional requirements to the process. What is in the guide that is not in the statutes or the administrative code that they don’t want us to know?”
Everyone, gun owner or not, should be very concerned at the NJSP’s attempt to keep their guidebook from being accessed.
“We appreciate and respect our law enforcement professionals, they have a tough job to do, but the use of this exemption is scary” said Mr. Fiamingo, “It’s a dangerous precedent for all citizens. Our focus is on how this affects the right to keep and bear arms, but everyone should be concerned with this new exemption and the others in EO 47. This has nothing to do with security or criminal investigations or surveillance. If they can keep the mundane administrative functions of issuing a permit a secret, what else can they keep a secret?”
Therefore, on April 29th, 2011, NJ2AS filed a lawsuit seeking to force the NJSP to allow access to their Firearms Guidebook, so it may be studied to determine exactly who is directing the many violations of 2C:58-3f that continued unabated.
NJ2AS is being represented by Richard Gutman, an experienced and highly respected attorney from Montclair, NJ who specializes in First Amendment and OPRA cases.
NJ2AS would like to thank those who have donated to Operation Establish Compliance, our ongoing campaign to correct the additional, unauthorized permitting requirements. We could not execute this campaign without your continued support. Anyone wishing to contribute may do so at www.NJ2AS.com.
NJ2AS is the newest and most relevant firearms safety and gun rights organization in New Jersey.
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