- The Supreme Court let stand law requiring proof that a gun needs to be carried in public
- Four gun owners appealed, saying the New Jersey law violated their rights
- There are as many as 275 million guns in the United States, according to the Justice Department
The Supreme Court continued its recent hands-off approach on gun control, refusing on Monday to accept a challenge to New Jersey's restrictions on carrying weapons in public.
The justices without comment let stand a state law that anyone who wants to possess a handgun outside the home for self defense first prove a "justifiable need" for doing so.
Four gun owners in the state, backed by 19 states and several advocacy groups, argued the measure violated their Second Amendment rights.
The law mandates that local police and a judge first approve such gun permits.
The court has in the past year rejected similar challenges in Texas, Maryland, and New York.
But all states allow at least some limited ability to carry a concealed weapon in public, often requiring "good cause" by an individual before a permit is issued. Vermont, Arizona, Alaska, and Wyoming do not require any permit for a concealed weapon.
There are as many as 275 million guns in the United States, the Justice Department estimates. Handguns were used in three quarters of the more than 10,000 homicides involving firearms in 2005.
The current debate follows the Supreme Court's landmark 2008 ruling that affirmed an individual's right to own a gun for the first time.
But that divided ruling, which struck down restrictions in Washington, D.C., confined the analysis to the home. The justices left in place other gun laws, including those "forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools."
Efforts by various groups to expand the right to the streets have mostly failed. But a federal appeals court earlier this year ruled San Diego County's limits on those seeking a concealed carry permit was unconstitutional. That could lead to a high court examination of the issue in coming months.
Efforts to craft compromise gun-control legislation have stalled in Congress despite the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre in 2012 and a string of mass shootings since. The emphasis has shifted to the states where gun-rights advocates have made legislative gains.
The New Jersey case is Drake v. Jerejian (13-827).