Do Movie Theater Security Guards Need Guns? NJ Judges Say No
ROSELLE PARK — Six years after a gunman killed 12 people and injured 70 more during a shooting at a Colorado movie theater, judges in New Jersey say cinema security guards have no need to carry firearms.
A security guard at a local movie theater applied for a carry permit, which was approved by the borough police chief. A Superior Court judge sitting in Elizabeth, however, denied Calvin Carlstrom's application in February — a decision that was upheld Monday by an appellate court panel.
Carlstrom worked as a security guard at an AMC theater and applied for the permit to carry a gun in June 2016. He listed his occupation as a security guard for Global Security Services.
He submitted several endorsements, certificates for firearms trainings and a letter from Global Security's director of operations that noted his job duties would include "protection of life, as well as cash transfers in the theaters." The letter from John DeVino also noted that "large amounts of cash" are moved across the theater, and that theaters have been identified as "soft targets" for terrorists by the Department of Homeland Security.
Carlstrom's application was approved by the Roselle Park police chief in October 2016, but Judge William A. Daniel denied the application without a hearing. In his denial, the judge noted that Carlstrom did not establish "justifiable need" to carry a gun.
"Applicant failed to establish that he, in the course of his described employment, will be subjected to a substantial threat of serious bodily harm and that carrying a handgun is necessary to reduce the threat of unjustifiable serious harm to any person," the judge's decision said.
The appellate panel on Monday upheld the ruling that employees of private security companies do not have "preferred right by virtue of their status to obtain a permit to carry a gun." In order to meet that standard, the panel said Carlstrom would have to provide certification that he was "subject to a substantial threat of serious bodily harm," and that carrying a weapon is "necessary to reduce the threat of unjustifiable serious bodily harm to any person."
In its decision, the panel said Carlstrom had not established a "justifiable need" to have a gun as part of his duties.
The panel also disagreed with Carlstrom's argument that he was denied due process because he was not given a hearing prior to the denial. The panel said hearings are only provided for people who have had their applications denied by the police or local superintendent for approval. In a situation like Carlstrom's, they are entitled to an appeal.
Carlstrom also argued that the denial violated his Second Amendment rights. The appellate decision noted that the New Jersey's permitting process is compatible with gun rights.
"We cannot conclude that the Amendment or the Court's recent decisions require this state to dismantle its statutory scheme addressing the risks of misuse and accidental use in public places devised long ago and developed over many years," the decision says.