CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming is leading a coalition of 19 states asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let them submit a brief supporting a New Jersey man's challenge to that state's concealed weapons law.
The Wyoming Attorney General's Office, acting as lawyer for Wyoming and the other states, on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to grant a hearing to John M. Drake and others who are challenging a recent appeals court ruling.
A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last summer ruled against Drake's challenge to a provision in New Jersey law that says people seeking permits to carry a concealed firearm must prove to police that they have a justifiable need.
The brief from Wyoming Attorney General's Office says that Wyoming and the other states are concerned that if the appeals court ruling stands, it could threaten their less-restrictive concealed carry laws.
"This decision out of New Jersey impacts the right to keep and bear arms outside of the home," Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Wednesday. "So, I felt it was necessary to have the attorney general support a petition to the Supreme Court to hear this case.
"If the current decision stands, states providing greater protections than New Jersey under the Second Amendment may be pre-empted by future federal action," said Mead, a Republican.
Wyoming is among the most pro-gun states in the nation. Although Wyoming still issues concealed carry permits to its citizens, the state in 2011 changed its laws to allow concealed carry without a permit.
Mead and other statewide officials this month approved $13 million in grants to help a Colorado producer of ammunition magazines for guns move its manufacturing operations to Wyoming. Magpul Industries of Erie, Colo., pledged to move out of Colorado after lawmakers in that state enacted gun control measures last year.
The Star-Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper, reported Wednesday that Drake, of Fredon, N.J., is a business owner who owns and services ATMs. He told the paper he sometimes carries large amounts of cash.
"It seems unreasonable to me to have to wait until you're beaten up or shot at to get a permit," Drake said told the newspaper.
The National Rifle Association also is supporting Drake's legal challenge.
The Star-Ledger quoted Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, saying, "Law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to defend themselves beyond their front doorstep."
The other states joining in the effort are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.