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Murder in Atlantic City New Jersey illustrates why casinos are wrong on guns

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In New Jersey, since the people have regained their right to carry, all three branches of the state government went ballistic over this. Yes, all three. Governor Phil Murphy came out swinging with statements admonishing the Supreme Court. There were many judges who were issuing permits to carry with ridiculous restrictions and associated court orders. Then there was the legislature, undoubtedly at the behest of the Murphy administration, that drafted and passed a law destroying the practical ability for permit holders to actually carry. A recent guilty plea in a murder case might strengthen arguments of gun owners and weaken excuses for casino policy.

From the legislation that was enacted, known as the “carry killer” law, one of the places determined to be a “sensitive location” was casinos. Due to a temporary restraining order, casinos were removed from the list of places where firearm possession was prohibited, but the casinos banded together to make it their policy to disallow people from having guns while on property. It’s alleged and rumored that the casinos and the state were in communication prior to the Casino Association’s announcement (they were for a fact according to some correspondence obtained through an OPRA request), and that speculation of course leads many to believe the policy change was also a request of Phil Murphy’s.

A case dating back to 2021 illustrates just how bad the crime in and around New Jersey casinos can be. From an Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office release, a murder and subsequent plea was described.

On June 11, 2021, Atlantic City Police responded to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City for a report of a woman suffering from multiple stab wounds. The victim was found deceased in a hotel room with a sheet covering her body and a knife on top of the sheet.

The victim’s boyfriend, Lane, was seen on surveillance footage wearing clothing later found in a bag that had been tossed in a trash can in Atlantic City. Lane was seen leaving the hotel with the bag but did not have it with him at the Atlantic City bus terminal, where security footage showed him traveling back to Philadelphia. Lane was located and surrendered to law enforcement a few days later.

While we are not privy to any of the more intimate details revolving around this case, that does not take away from the fact that this murder occurred in a casino hotel. Granted, disputes of any nature, but especially domestic ones, can occur anywhere, regardless of who owns the property. But casinos in general are grounds where passions might run higher than they normally would, and paired with other circumstances, could aid in people behaving in violent ways. We don’t have to be criminologists to do the math behind how people that might lose all of their money gambling may turn to criminal activity to give themselves some level of relief. People have a right to protect themselves from the criminal element.

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, Frankie E. Lane, 61, of Philadelphia, PA pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter in exchange for a 20-year term in New Jersey State Prison, where he must serve 85% of that sentence before being eligible for parole pursuant to the No Early Release Act.

Governor Phil Murphy, the legislature, and the casino trade organization may not want people possessing firearms on casino property, but that does not mean there’s no place for bearing arms at such locals. Even in Las Vegas there’s no statute limiting people from carrying on casino properties. Any prohibitions would be based on whether or not the property owners post that the possession of guns would be prohibited.

Atlantic City is no dream land. Much like other cities, there’s an allure there, with plenty in the way of food, beverage and entertainment, but there’s also a large criminal element. People that wish to enjoy different aspects of the resort areas, or I dare say walk around the city and want to be armed – as it’s the peoples’ right to do so – are faced with a patchwork of “what the hell do you do with your gun when entering a posted property?” There’s no easy answer, and the casino’s blanket prohibition on firearm possession in Atlantic City is not practical nor good business.

It’s doubtful that the casinos will back track on their policy. What’s yet to be seen is what happens when someone is a permitted carrier and they do get “caught” trespassing on the grounds of a casino. Is this going to be just a trespassing charge if they refuse to leave? Or does this turn into some sort of a trumped up felony, something the Garden State is so fond of doling out to the more law abiding people that get trapped up in the laws. We’ll just have to see as time marches on.

In the meantime, we’ll keep scouring the news sources that have been reporting on all the permit to carry holders that are shooting up people in the Garden State…Just to put it out there, there haven’t been any. Otherwise we’d all have heard about it. Each day that goes by with the TRO in effect is another day the ruling class in New Jersey is proved wrong and their arguments are weakened. 

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