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N.J. Attorney General Platkin Responds to Racial Bias Allegations on Permits to Carry

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Last week I uncovered some data that’s potentially biased against Black applicants for permits to carry in New Jersey. Looking at numbers that I received via Attorney General Matthew Platkin’s permit to carry dashboard, after the filing of an Open Public Record Act request, I found that Black applicants have been denied the issuance of permits to carry at a rate of more than double their white counterparts. Further, issuing authorities are still using a subjective standard to weigh eligibility, and that standard is being used more than 2.2 times against Blacks over whites. I reached out to Attorney General Matthew Platkin’s office for comment and I finally got a reply.

On Saturday May 4, 2024, I sent the following to Platkin’s email address and his press contact:

Attention Office of Attorney General:

I’m writing because I’m seeking comment on some data that just became available to me via OPRA W215472. As you know, I’m a freelance journalist, and I’ve been covering firearm related news in the state and nation.

Through the data, I recorded in a recent editorial, the following information:

“While the Black population is considered ‘underrepresented’ in applications, with 11.6% of applicants being Black and N.J.’s Black population being listed as 13.1%, I’m still impressed with those numbers. The deviation is a little over one point and that percentage point represents the shattering of the narrative that the Black population is not interested in law abiding gun ownership.

“On the other hand, whites are also ‘underrepresented,’ but that number does not include ‘white including hispanic/spanish origin.’ There is a separate ‘hispanic or latino’ demographic, to complicate things further. 53.8% applicants were ‘just white,’ not including hispanic/spanish whites. The white population of N.J. is noted to be 55%.

“Where things start to get startling is when we look at the denial data. .53% of white applications were denied, with 52 denied under ‘public health, safety, and welfare.’ Contrast that to Black denials; 1.3% of Black applications were denied, with 26 denied under ‘public health, safety, and welfare.’

“Black applicants were denied getting issued permits to carry at a rate of more than double that of whites.

“Looking closer at the ‘public health, safety, and welfare’ standard, we have more shocking data. Whites were denied .27% of the time under these subjective standards, with Blacks being denied .6% of the time. That’s also more than double. 2.2 times more Blacks are denied permits to carry over whites, under this subjective standard.”

I would like to get a comment from the Attorney General concerning this huge racial disparity. Can AG Platkin speak to why the state is denying Blacks permits to carry at a rate of more than double that of whites? And further, 2.2 times more using an unconstitutional subjective standard?

Any and all commentary from AG Platkin/this office would be appreciated.

Warmest Regards,
John Petrolino

I gave the office a full business day to reply before writing to them again. On the night of Monday the 6th, I re-queried Platkin and his office:

Attention OAG/Matthew Platkin:

The courtesy of a reply would be greatly appreciated along with a comment on the record. This data is rather alarming and my readers would like to know the AG’s position on why Blacks are being denied permits to carry more than double their white counterparts, especially through subjective standards which were outlawed by NYSRPA v. Bruen. Further, is the AG going to be issuing any directives to issuing authorities alerting them to no longer use 2C:58-3c.(5)?

Given the gravity of this severe civil rights violation, I do believe the public deserves a response that goes beyond, “No comment.”

Thank you kindly, I look forward to your reply.

Platkin’s office did respond to my request for comment on May 8, 2024. Platkin’s office offered the following insight on the situation:

“The office declines to comment.” – The Office of Attorney General Matthew Platkin, When Asked About Potential Racial Bias in the Denials of Permits to Carry

This story is part of a series of several about issuing authorities using 2C:58-3c.(5) to deny applicants seeking firearm related permits and identification cards in the Garden State, and is still developing. Several other lines have been put out on the topic, which will be reported on over the next several weeks and months. Whether or not the Attorney General intends on going on the record about this data in the future remains to be seen. Governor Phil Murphy’s office has also remained silent to date, ignoring my request for comment.

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