I’m not aware of any other constitutionally-protected right that ends at the border of the state where you live, but when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms that’s unfortunately where things currently stand in the courts. As a resident of Virginia with a valid concealed carry license, for instance, I can bear arms the neighboring states of West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, but my 2A rights disappear if I want to lawfully carry in Maryland since the state doesn’t recognize Virginia permits.
New Jersey is similar to Maryland in its refusal to recognize carry licenses from other states, and attorneys like Evan Nappen have plenty of work defending legal gun owners who made the mistake of thinking their Second Amendment rights cross state lines or even accidentally brought their legally-owned firearm into the Garden State. One of the latest to be charged with the “crime” of possessing a firearm in the state without a license is WWE star Sonya Deville, who was arrested last month in Atlantic City. As TMZ reports:
According to court docs, the incident happened on Feb. 19 in Atlantic City … when our sources tell us a valet discovered the weapon in her car’s glove box and called cops.
Police arrived on scene and arrested Deville — real name Daria Berenato — a short time later … and court records show she’s since been charged with one count of unlawful weapon possession — handgun without permit.
Sources close to the wrestler tell us … Deville got the weapon for personal protection after a 24-year-old man allegedly attempted to kidnap her during a terrifying home break-in in Florida back in 2020.
We’re told the gun is registered in Florida — but not New Jersey.
Florida doesn’t have a gun registration law, so whoever told TMZ that Deville’s firearm was registered in that state is incorrect, though it sounds like Deville did lawfully possess the firearm, at least while she was in her home state. Because she brought the gun with her to New Jersey, however Deville is now facing the potential of three to five years in prison for illegally possessing a firearm.
I’d love to see Deville and her attorneys mount a Second Amendment-related challenge to the charges, but honestly I’d be surprised if this case makes it to trial. Deville is a pretty sympathetic defendant given her previous run-in with a violent stalker and prosecutors may not want to make her the poster child for the state’s draconian gun control laws, so a plea deal (or at least an offer) is probably forthcoming.
Even if Deville manages to avoid a conviction and a potential prison sentence, the underlying issue is still out there and unaddressed. If the Second Amendment isn’t a second-class right as the Supreme Court has said, then why is it the only right that stops at the borders of your home state? Sonya Deville didn’t lose her freedom of speech when she entered New Jersey. Her Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures didn’t vanish when she crossed the state line. So why should her right to keep and bear arms be negated because she left Florida and traveled to New Jersey?
Deville’s case may not be the vehicle to take this issue to the Supreme Court, but I guess that’s up to her and her legal counsel. Sooner or later though, SCOTUS is going to have to address this untenable status quo, and the quicker the better. The right to keep and bear arms is a right of the people, and one that simply can’t disappear when you venture beyond the borders of the state where you live.