NRA Loses Appeal Over N.J.'s 1-Gun-Per-Month Restriction

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on February 07, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Since 2010, New Jersey has enforced a one-gun-per-month rule for people who want to buy firearms in the state. It's something that bothered the National Rifle Association.

It bothered them so much that the official NRA state association, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, filed a lawsuit to challenge its enforcement. They claimed the law was barred by federal law.

The Federal Toy Gun Act bars states from prohibiting the sale of BB guns and other pellet firing guns. But the argument that New Jersey's "one gun" law violated it failed on appeal.

It actually didn't do so well in the lower court either. The trial court rejected the NRA's argument back in 2010, reports Bloomberg.

The group argued that New Jersey's law was pre-empted by the Federal Toy Gun Act because that law already dealt with pellet guns. The New Jersey law effectively limited the purchase of any firearms to one per month.

The law does allow some exceptions for handgun collectors and competitive shooters, but the NRA argued that meeting the standards for those exceptions was too difficult to prove.

The trial court disagreed, saying the NRA was wrong about the preemption argument. Last week, a federal appeals court made the same decision.

Pre-emption is a doctrine that's tied up in the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution -- namely, the part that says that federal law is the "supreme law of the land."

When state law conflicts with federal law, the federal law will always win. But in some cases the fedreal law will prevail even though there isn't a conflict with a state law.

For example, if the federal government makes a blanket rule, it may be so broadly written that further legislation on that topic is impossible. In that case, state law would also be pre-empted.

But in this case, the appeals court noted that the law doesn't get in the way of federal protections on BB and pellet gun sales. The law isn't a ban on sales. It's just a restriction on when and how guns can be bought. And that's not a problem, according to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling.

While New Jersey gun purchasers may feel differently, it looks like there's nothing left to do. The law is just not on their side this time.

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