Casino association asserts its rights

If you’re the type of person who takes the poker term “under the gun” literally, you might want to leave your weapons safely locked up at home before your next jaunt to Atlantic City. On Monday, the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) said that, despite a US District Court judge issuing a temporary restraining order on a casino gun ban late last month, its member casinos will still prohibit guests from carrying firearms on their properties.

In a brief statement on the CANJ website, Association president Mark Giannantonio said, “The safety and well-being of our guests and employees is a top priority for the Atlantic City casino industry. 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.”

Regardless of the law or the judge’s order, it is a common sense decision. While one can argue whether or not it is a good idea to carry a firearm anywhere in everyday life, casinos would rank pretty high on the list of the worst places to have one. Though most people have plenty of fun at casinos, they are also venues were emotions can run high. People often get angry at the casino and fellow patrons, people can plummet into depression over losses, alcohol is plentiful, and, of course, money is everywhere. Not a good combination.

Governor versus gun lobby

The tug of war over guns in casinos goes back to the end of 2022, when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that limited where people could carry concealed handguns in the Garden State. Among the locations where such weapons were restricted were casinos, beaches, museums, bars, and libraries.

This came after last summer’s ruling by the US Supreme Court that said New York’s law mandating licenses for concealed carry in public areas was unconstitutional. Other states, like New Jersey, were also affected by the decision. The ruling did permit some wiggle room in state laws when it came to “sensitive places.”

So, after Murphy signed the law banning concealed carry in casinos and other places, gun advocates sued, arguing that the law violated their Second Amendment rights. In late January, US District Judge Renee Bumb sided with the plaintiffs, to a degree, issuing a temporary restraining order, which prevents the gun ban from being enforced. The law hasn’t been struck down yet, as the outcome of the lawsuit remains to be seen, but Judge Bumb decided that until litigation is concluded, the concealed carry ban needs to be suspended.

Governor Murphy’s office plans to appeal the ruling.

In the meantime, then, Atlantic City casinos are still forbidding visitors from bringing firearms onto the premises, regardless of the court decision.

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