Muller v. Maenza, No. 12-1150 (3d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Individuals who wish to carry a handgun in public for self-defense must obtain a license under New Jersey’s Handgun Permit Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4. Police evaluate applications based on criminal history, age and mental health requirements, familiarity with safe handling and use of handguns, and “a justifiable need to carry a handgun.” The meaning of “justifiable need” is: [T]he urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun. If the officer determines that the applicant has met all the requirements, the application is approved and sent to a judge, who “shall issue the permit to the applicant if, but only if, it is satisfied that the applicant is a person of good character and meets the statutory criteria. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s rejection of arguments that the Second Amendment secures a right to carry arms in public for self-defense; that the “justifiable need” standard was an unconstitutional prior restraint; and that the standard fails any level of means-end scrutiny.