New Jersey’s high population density is often cited as a reason that concealed carry won’t work here. Second Amendment attorney Daniel Schmutter disagrees.
“Population density is a reason to have shall issue, not a reason to avoid shall issue,” he asserts. “Densely populated areas tend to be higher crime areas, and thus the need for lawful self-defense is typically greater.”
New Jersey will likely become a shall-issue state for concealed carry permits only “if the right-to-carry issue is resolved favorably by the Supreme Court,” he adds
Having addressed “The Future of Right to Carry in the Courts” at the first NJ SAFE in 2015, Schmutter says CCW makes especially perfect sense for a state as populous as New Jersey.
Schmutter’s path to representing clients “in major civil rights challenges to unconstitutional statutes and regulations, as well as in connection with individual gun rights issues” began when he learned to shoot at law school at the University of Virginia.
“As a Jewish kid growing up in the Bronx, firearms just were not a thing you got involved with, or so I was told,” he recalls. “My law school roommate and I decided to take a short course with the U. Va. rifle club to learn to shoot, and the next we knew we were driving to Clark Brothers in Warrenton, Virginia, to buy our first guns.”
At last year’s NJ SAFE, he updated attendees on federal right-to-carry cases, as well as state carry cases he has been involved with in New Jersey and other states, such as before New Hampshire’s Supreme Court.
“Second Amendment law is in its infancy,” he explains. “The Supreme Court began seriously addressing the First Amendment early in the 20th century and has had some considerable time to refine its jurisprudence on that front. Second Amendment law only gained major traction in federal courts in 2008 with the Heller decision.”
For many voters, the 2016 presidential election came down to which candidate would make pro-2A Supreme Court appointments. So far so good with President Donald Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch — but more needs to be done to further bolster the right to bear arms, Schmutter asserts.
“For President Trump to make a lasting change on the court vis-a-vis the Second Amendment, he would need to make one or perhaps several additional appointments of justices favoring a strong right to keep and bear arms. Another way for the president to impact Second Amendment law would be to appoint lower court judges with a strong individual rights view of the Second Amendment.”
This will be one of the many topics of discussion at the third-annual NJ SAFE Conference on Sept. 23 in Princeton, the only such clearinghouse for 2A information for New Jersey gun owners.
“NJ SAFE is a unique opportunity for firearms owners all over New Jersey — regardless of affiliation, interest, or focus — to gather and share ideas and strategies,” Schmutter concludes. “It’s truly where the Second Amendment meets the First Amendment.”