by Dana DiFilippo, New Jersey Monitor
A state appellate panel has ruled against a New Jersey man who surrendered his guns a decade ago after a sexual assault and tried to get them back under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that declared a constitutional right to carry.
Emanuel Brice, 34, of Morristown, New Jersey, was arrested in June 2013 along with two other men for an incident in Bergen County in which a woman was sexually assaulted inside and outside of a car, and then abandoned on the side of the road.
The men were indicted in 2014 but not convicted because the victim took her life in 2019, prompting a judge to dismiss the case, according to a Superior Court ruling issued last week.
Brice applied in 2020 to get back the Glock handgun, Mossberg shotgun, and firearms purchaser identification card he had given up as a condition of bail, according to the ruling. But a judge denied that bid in 2021.
The sexual assault allegations were “serious enough and corroborated enough by physical evidence and observations of the victim” that granting him access to a firearm was “inappropriate” and not in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare under the state’s gun law, the judge decreed.
In an appeal, Brice argued that the Supreme Court decision known as Bruen, which upended gun carry restrictions in New Jersey and elsewhere, rendered the state law unconstitutional. But in their decision last Friday, a three-judge appeals panel rejected that claim.
They also cited Bruen to defend their decision. Bruen centers the Second Amendment in determining who can have guns and under what conditions, requiring lawmakers to look back in history and follow the historical traditions that existed when the U.S. Constitution was written.
The appeals panel cited a March ruling in a similar appeal, in which Judge Richard J. Geiger wrote that lawmakers historically have disqualified people from possessing firearms not only for a “propensity for violence,” but also for the “perceived threat they posed to an orderly society and compliance with legal norms.”
In affirming the lower court’s refusal to return Brice’s firearms, the panel again quoted Geiger: “Appellant’s history of misconduct placed him outside of ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment.” Brice’s attorney Evan Nappen did not respond to a request for comment.