Rifle Group Loses Challenge to New Jersey Gun-Buying Law

A U.S. court of appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs challenging a state statute that limits purchases of handguns to one a month.

The non-profit group sued the state in 2010 arguing that federal law barred the restrictions imposed on pellet-firing air guns and BB guns as part of a 2009 statute. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia disagreed and upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the case.

“Because the One Gun Law regulates but does not prohibit the sale of BB and air guns, it is not preempted” by federal law governing imitation firearms, a three-judge panel said in its ruling today.

The New Jersey law provides exemptions from its restrictions for handgun collectors and competitive shooters. The provision, which requires an application detailing specific handguns for purchase by serial numbers, makes it difficult or impossible for the average collector to obtain an exemption, the rifle group argued in court papers. The appeals court rejected the argument that the process violated the group’s right to property.

“The implementing forms do not add further requirements that are so onerous as to deprive appellants of any property interest they may have in the exemptions,” the court ruled.

The group is the official National Rifle Association of America’s state affiliate, according to its website. Officials didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, 12-1624, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Philadelphia)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at spearson3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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