The National Rifle Association sued Tuesday to overturn New Jersey’s stringent gun law governing when a state resident can receive a concealed carry gun permit.

The powerful gun rights lobby and its New Jersey affiliate, the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, told the U.S. District Court that the law was so strict it virtually makes it impossible for residents to obtain permits.

The law requires a gun owner to show a “justifiable need,” which the NRA said basically prevents anyone in the state from obtaining a concealed weapons permit.

“It’s outrageous that law-abiding people are being denied their right to self-defense by arbitrary means,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said.

“Statistics show that self-defense situations come up quickly and without warning. Time and time again, we hear stories about good people who have saved lives because they were carrying a firearm. The state of New Jersey has no reason to deny law-abiding citizens their constitutional rights.”

A spokesman for state Attorney Gurbir Grewal, Leland Moore, declined comment on the specific lawsuit.

“However, we have consistently been successful in defending New Jersey’s commonsense firearm safety laws in the past, which protect the safety of the public and of law enforcement officers, and we will continue to do so going forward,” Moore said.

This is not the first time the NRA has targeted New Jersey’s concealed weapons law. In 2017, the group sought unsuccessfully to get the Republican-controlled Congress to overturn the state’s law by requiring all states to honor concealed weapons permits issued by other states, the same way they now accept out-of-state drivers’ licenses.

The Gifford Law Center last year rated New Jersey as the state with the second-toughest gun laws, second only to California. New Jersey also ranked 45th among the 50 states in the per capita number of gun deaths every year. Only Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts had fewer per capita gun deaths.

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Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at [email protected].

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