Exceptions to Illegal Gun Possession in NJ
Are there Exceptions to Illegal Possession of a Firearm in New Jersey?
Weapons that are prohibited in New Jersey or require a permit are set forth by statute. In the vast majority of circumstances, an individual must go through the process of obtaining a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FIC) to purchase a rifle or shotgun, and an additional permit to purchase a handgun if they intend to buy a gun of this kind in the state. While a person can possess a firearm in their home or business, a separate handgun carry permit is required to carry a handgun unless the individual is legally transporting the firearm, whether for the purposes of traveling through the state or going to and from certain authorized locations, such as from your home to the gun range and then back. New Jersey law strictly punishes the illegal possession of a firearm under the unlawful possession of a weapon statute. While the ramifications of illegally possessing a handgun or another firearm are severe, New Jersey provides certain exceptions to the law on illegal possession of a firearm for eligible types of individuals and situations. These exceptions are outlined in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6.
NJ Firearm Possession Exceptions
As long as an individual has undergone and satisfactorily completed a training course on firearms that is approved by the Police Training Commission, and they fall under one of several provided exemptions, they will not be criminally liable for possessing a firearm under circumstances that would otherwise be illegal under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. According to N.J.S.A 2C: 39-6, several types of individuals are exempt from all provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, including members of the following groups.
Members of the Armed Forces or National Guard
If you are an active duty member of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp., or Coast Guard, you are exempt from N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 while you are on duty and while you are traveling between duty stations or places and carrying a weapon authorized by military authorities. If you are a member of the National Guard, you are also exempt under these circumstances.
Federal Law Enforcement
If you are a federal law enforcement officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Control, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service, or any other federal law enforcement agency, or if you are a federal employee required to carry a firearm for work, you are exempt from N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5.
NJ State Police
New Jersey State Police officers are exempt from N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. Members of the Marine Law Enforcement are also exempt under certain conditions set by the superintendent of State Police.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6, a sheriff, under sheriff, or sheriff’s officer is also exempt from N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5.
Prosecutors and Deputy Attorneys General
County prosecutors, assistant prosecutors, or a prosecutor’s detective or investigator, and deputy attorney generals are also exempt, so long as they complete a firearms training course approved by the State Police.
State Agency Investigators and Inspectors
In addition, there are a number of investigators within New Jersey state agencies that are exempt including investigators employed with the State Commission of Investigation, the Division of Criminal Justice of the Department of Law and Public Safety, and inspector of the Alcohol Beverage Control Enforcement Bureau of the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety.
Department of Corrections Employees
Wardens of prisons and jails in New Jersey are exempt. If a Department of Corrections employee is transporting convicts interstate, they are also exempt, so long as they are in possession of the firearm while performing their job duties and are required by their employer to possess the weapon. New Jersey corrections officers are exempt at all times so long as they pass an annual exam on handling firearms. Juvenile corrections officers employed with the Juvenile Justice Commission are also exempt.
Officers, detectives, and regularly employed members of any police department in New Jersey are exempt.
Special Law Enforcement Officers
Special law enforcement officers are appointed for a term of no more than one year. They are typically appointed on a part-time or temporary basis by municipalities and are often retired police officers or are seeking full-time employment as an officer. They are exempt from N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5.
Airport Security Officers
Airport security officers who are authorized to carry weapons are exempt while actually engaged in their job duties.
Arson Investigation Units
Individuals who are paid full-time or part-time members of arson investigation units are exempt while performing their duties or on call to perform their duties.
Individuals Exempt from Licensing Requirements for Machine Guns, Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns in NJ
While the above groups of individuals are exempt from the law on unlawful possession of a weapon in its entirety, there are some groups of individuals who are exempt from the sections of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 that apply to machine guns, handguns, rifles, and shotguns only.
Law Enforcement Officers From Outside of New Jersey
New Jersey’s law on unlawful possession of machine guns, handguns, rifles, and shotguns does not apply to law enforcement officers from a government agency outside of New Jersey while they are engaged in their official duties. However, they must first contact the chief law enforcement officer or the prosecutor of the municipality or county where they will be.
Licensed Firearms Dealers
Licensed firearms dealers and their registered employees are exempt from N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 on their way to and from their place of business to an exhibition or another place for the purpose of demonstrating or making a delivery of firearms.
Other Eligible Individuals
Special agents for the Division of Taxation, conservation officers for the Division of Parks and Forestry, and a court attendant appointed by a sheriff, judge, or court in New Jersey are exempt from the law on unlawful possession of weapons as it relates to handguns, rifles, and shotguns only.
Questions about Exceptions for Illegal Gun Possession in NJ? Talk to a Knowledgeable NJ Firearms Law Attorney
To say that New Jersey’s gun laws, including exemptions provided to the unlawful possession of weapons, are both strict and complex is an understatement. Each year, many individuals who did not intend to harm another person and/or simply misunderstood the law, are convicted of illegally possessing firearms and other weapons in virtually every county in the state. You’re not alone. If you have been charged with illegally possession a weapon but you believe you are exempt under the law, or you are facing other charges for possessing a prohibited weapon or device, committing a crime like aggravated assault with a weapon, or if you have not been charged with a crime but want to be sure that you comply with New Jersey’s weapon laws properly, contact our team of experienced and knowledgeable firearms law attorneys today. We offer free consultations 24/7 to address your unique questions and legal needs regarding weapons law matters throughout the state. Do not hesitate to call (201)-614-2474 or contact us online to speak with an attorney free of charge.