Atlantic City casinos reinstate ban on firearms

Atlantic City casino owners are prohibiting patrons from carrying firearms into their gaming venues. This comes after a decree by a federal judge last week that lifted the state’s ban on carrying guns into gaming venues and other public spaces.

The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) made the announcement just over a month after the state passed the law to overhaul its regulations on concealed carry and prohibited firearms from being in “sensitive places”.

Judge Renee Marie Bumb previously issued a temporary restraining order which prevented some areas of the law from taking effect. The order allowed gun owners to carry their weapons to places like casinos, beaches, parks, and other recreational venues. Bumb also said the law had “considerable constitutional problems”.

Despite this, private businesses in the state reserve the right to prohibit firearms on their premises.

The CANJ president, Mark Giannantonio, released a statement revealing that the owners of Atlantic City’s nine casinos had decided to exercise their rights as the owners of private properties to issue a gun ban on said properties.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and employees is a top priority for the Atlantic City casino industry,” CANJ’s president said.

“Considering the court order temporarily restraining enforcement of the state law prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms in public places, including casinos, all of the Atlantic City casinos are exercising their rights, as private property owners, to prohibit the carrying of firearms on their premises.”

READ: New Jersey to review smoking laws for Atlantic City casinos

CANJ’s pronouncement was met with some opposition, particularly from Second Amendment advocates who went on to take the new law to court.

Scott Bach, the president of New Jersey’s Association of Rifle & Pistol Clubs, was one of the plaintiffs in the case. In a statement, he called the new law baffling, adding that it would only serve to make casino patrons vulnerable to assault in the future.

“The casino association has announced to the world that their patrons are unable to defend themselves. Criminals now know where to seek victims who cannot fight back,” said Bach.

“If the casinos don’t provide their own armed security, they’d better have good liability insurance.”

In 2011, an effort to have armed guards placed in Atlantic City casinos failed. The attempt was in response to two carjackings within 16 months in the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort’s parking garage. Both incidents resulted in the deaths of patrons.

The lawsuit filed against New Jersey’s expansive concealed carry regulation is one of several inspired by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has nullified such laws in a number of states.

The New Jersey law, which was signed in by Governor Phil Murphy last year, prohibited gun owners from carrying weapons into several places in the state. These places include casinos, hospitals, child care centers, courthouses, schools, polling places, government buildings, nursing homes, airports, beaches, movie theaters, bars, demonstrations, restaurants serving alcohol, and other entertainment venues.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, New Jersey had maintained some of the most stringent carry restrictions in the country for decades. This made it increasingly difficult for any civilians besides retired law enforcement officials to wield handguns legally. To receive a permit in the state, one had to prove a “justifiable need”.

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