With some of the most rigorous gun control laws in the nation, New Jersey residents and visitors must be very careful to follow all gun permit requirements to avoid legal liability and potential criminal charges. As a prospective or current gun owner in New Jersey, or someone who plans to move, visit, or travel through the state, it is important to understand the various types of New Jersey gun permits, the process of obtaining a gun permit, appealing a denial of your gun permit application, and criminal charges that may apply if you fail to obtain a permit.
Main Types of Gun Permits in New Jersey
There are two basic types of gun permits in New Jersey: firearm purchase permits and carry permits.
Firearms Purchaser Identification Cards and Handgun Purchase Permits
New Jersey has two different firearm purchase permits, depending on what type of firearm you are purchasing. If you would like to purchase a handgun, you must apply for a New Jersey Permit to Purchase a Handgun. To purchase a shotgun or rifle, you must obtain a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FID).
An FID will allow you to keep a legal firearm in your home, place of business, and certain other very specific allowances, like when you bring the firearm to a gun range for target practice. You can purchase and possess multiple rifles and shotguns with an FID, but you will need an additional permit for each handgun that you wish to purchase. Also, you may only buy one handgun every 30 days.
Process to Apply for a New Jersey Gun Permit to Purchase
To obtain either of these permits, you must first contact your local police department or the New Jersey State Police station covering your area, to get an Originating Agency Identifier (ORI) number. You will then use this ORI number to submit an application online using the Firearms Application and Registration System (FARS).
In your application, you will be asked to submit your biographical and contact information, information about your criminal background, history of domestic violence, whether you have been committed to or confined in a mental institution or a hospital for treatment of a mental or psychiatric condition, and whether you suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. You will also be required to certify that you are not a member of an organization that aims to overthrow the federal government or the government of the State of New Jersey. Further, you will be asked to provide the name, addresses, and phone numbers of two reputable people who know you and are not your relatives.
In addition to all of the information asked in the application, anyone applying for a firearms permit for the first time needs to undergo fingerprinting, which is handled by IndentoGo. Applicants are also required to consent to a mental health records search. This is accomplished through the Consent for Mental Health Records Search form. A driver’s license, passport, or another form of identification issued by the government must accompany your application as well.
Handgun Carry Permits in New Jersey
When it comes to issuing handgun carry permits, New Jersey is one of the strictest states in the nation. Unlike some other states, the average New Jersey resident is not generally eligible to obtain a Permit to Carry a Handgun without meeting rather stringent criteria. Applicants for gun carry permits must be of good character, not subject to any disabilities that would prevent them from getting a handgun or firearms purchaser identification permit, able to establish that they are knowledgeable about and well-acquainted with the appropriate use and safe way to handle firearms, and demonstrate a justifiable need to carry a handgun.
If you are a private citizen, to meet the burden of a justifiable need to carry a handgun, you must show that you have an urgent self-protection need. You must be able to support this with evidence showing threats or an attack that demonstrates the danger cannot be avoided by any other way than issuing them a carry permit. Other qualifying reasons for justifiable need relate to individuals with specific types of jobs in which they are exposed to a serious threat of physical harm in the regular course of their duties. Armored car personnel are a good example of this type of justifiable need qualification.
Frequent Reasons for Rejected NJ Gun Permit Applications
There are several reasons why a gun permit application may be denied. These reasons include your criminal record, the safety and welfare of public health, your age, medical, mental, or alcoholic background, a physical disability, a prior drug offense, a history of domestic violence or restraining order against you, or falsifying of an application.
Appealing a Gun Permit Denial in NJ
If you are denied, you have the right to file an appeal. To appeal the decision, you must file a hearing request with the Superior Court in the county where the application was filed within 30 days of the initial denial. This request must also be served on the County Prosecutor, your municipality’s chief of police, and the New Jersey State Police Superintendent. Your hearing will be scheduled within 30 days after your request is received.
However, filing an appeal is not always the proper way to handle a denied gun permit application in New Jersey. If the reason for the denial was due to a criminal conviction in your history and that conviction can be expunged, you can abandon the application while you work with an attorney to expunge the conviction from your record and then reapply for the permit.
Criminal Charges for Possession of a Firearm without a Permit in NJ
Even if you have no intent to harm another person with a firearm, if you have a firearm in your possession in New Jersey but you do not have a permit for it, you can be charged with unlawful possession of a handgun or unlawful possession of a rifle or shotgun. You can also face these charges if you are transporting a firearm in your vehicle without following the necessary requirements by law in NJ. This can occur if you have a gun in the car but do not have a proper permit, or if you have a permitted firearm in the vehicle but it is being stored in an unlawful manner. For example, you can’t drive with a gun in your glove compartment, regardless of whether or not you have a permit for the weapon.
Unlawful possession of a handgun is a second degree offense. If convicted, you may have to spend 5 to 10 years in prison and be ordered to pay fines of up to $150,000. Unlawful possession of a rifle or shotgun is a third degree offense, which carries potential penalties of 3 to 5 years of imprisonment.
NJ Graves Act weapon for Gun Crimes
These charges are also made more extreme by the application of the Graves Act, which is a New Jersey law that requires mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes involving firearms. Possession of a rifle, shotgun, handgun, machine gun, assault weapon, and several other possessory offenses are governed by the Graves Act. Additionally, many crimes committed while in possession of firearms are also subject to the Act’s sentencing mandates.
When a person is convicted of a Graves Act offense, they must serve a minimum term without coming up for parole eligibility. The prison sentence must be the longer period of either 42 months or fifty percent of the total sentence. This applies to a third, second, or first degree charge under the Graves Act. So getting arrested for an unpermitted rifle, shotgun, handgun, or other firearms can essentially mean you’re looking at mandatory prison time without parole if found guilty.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Gun Permit Lawyer
New Jersey’s gun laws are rigid and often confusing. If you are a gun owner or prospective gun owner, and you are uncertain about how to comply with New Jersey’s gun permit and possession laws, it is wise to consult with a knowledgeable gun law attorney. If your gun application has been denied for any reason, your options and best path for moving forward depend on the reason for the denial and the facts surrounding your situation. Before appealing or abandoning your application, you should also consult with an experienced firearms lawyer in New Jersey. Finally, if you have been charged with a gun-related offense for failing to have the required gun permit in New Jersey, it is crucial that you seek the advice and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the intricacies of gun laws and has an extensive background of gun cases defended and won.
Our team of experienced and skilled attorneys is ready and able to help you with any and all legal issues related to NJ guns and weapons laws. We have a formidable history of successfully maneuvered cases involving gun permits, gun charge defense, detention hearings for weapons offenses, Graves Act Waivers, gun permit appeals, weapons forfeiture hearings, and much more in the realm of firearms law. If you need help or have gun law-related questions anywhere in the state of NJ, contact 973-524-7238 for a free consultation. You can also request a free consultation online.