Where You CAN and CAN’T Carry a Gun in New Jersey

Where You Can and Can't Carry a Gun in NJ Consistent with New Jersey’s strong deterrence policies and gun restrictions, carry permits from other states are not acceptable in New Jersey, although at present 12 other states accept New Jersey permits. The state does not allow just anyone to carry a firearm beyond their residence, place of business, or other property they own. It does allow everyday citizens to legally transport their guns to and from home, work, and other authorized places like gun repair shops and shooting ranges without a permit to carry. For those seeking to carry their weapons in public, beyond the limited authorized locations, the state only allows carrying a gun to those who obtain a handgun carry permit. Those who want a carry permit may apply for one, provided they meet the state age, character, safety, and other requirements. However, only handguns are permitted for those with the appropriate permit to carry. Since public safety weighs mightily against a specific individual’s right to carry a firearm in New Jersey, the state statutory and regulatory scheme aims to lessen opportunities for guns to cause injuries and deaths. The last piece of the puzzle are the location restrictions. Even with a carry permit, there are some places where an individual may not carry their weapon.

Not only are the proof and authorization requirements strict enough to eliminate the number of carry permits, but the state and federal laws restricting where a licensed individual may carry their firearm lower the actual instances in which people are legally carrying handguns in the state. All permits to carry a firearm go through law enforcement and must receive superior court approval. However, this does not allow for carrying a handgun anywhere in New Jersey. Even if a person has a carry permit, they may not carry a firearm on most federal properties and many state locations.

Where You CAN Carry a Gun in New Jersey

For legal gun owners who comply with rules for obtaining and carrying a firearm, and are not disqualified from having a gun, state residents who are authorized to carry firearms may take their weapons into specific areas in New Jersey beyond their individual residence or place of business. For example, they may carry a gun in rest areas, vehicles, or hotels unless signs posted restrict guns inside the business establishment. The same goes for storing firearms in cars at an employer site. It depends on the individual hotel or employer policy. Realistically, there is no law criminalizing an individual’s defiance of a weapons prohibited sign, so enforcement in all cases is questionable. Further, those with carry permits may enter locations where a gun is not banned.

Where You CAN’T Carry a Gun in New Jersey

You cannot take firearms into state or federal parks, casinos, schools, universities, colleges, or federally prohibited areas, such as federal courthouses, buildings, prisons, and other places the government rents or uses. Also off-limits are national cemeteries, military bases (unless they are in the military), federal dams, Amtrak trains, post offices, national parks, ferries to national monuments, and Indian reservations. Moreover, federal rules supersede state and local carry rules regardless of the state.

Additional Places that Have Been Added to the CAN’T List

After Governor Phil Murphy’s efforts to support banning guns in places with significant amounts of people in a relatively compact space, including arenas, amusement and theme parks, stadiums, restaurants serving alcohol, bars, and various public transportation locations, New Jersey now prohibits carrying a firearm in a lengthy list of prohibited places, also known as “sensitive places.” He was successful in solidifying these efforts into law as 2022 came to a close. As of December 22, 2022, these measures were signed into law when the Legislature and the Governor enacted a new bill, A4769, imposing a wide ranging set of new restrictions and places where carrying weapons is now prohibited. Also included in the lengthy list of places where New Jersey has outlawed carrying weapons are hospitals and medical facilities, correctional facilities (jails and prisons), juvenile detention centers, halfway houses, daycares and child care settings, as well as nursing homes caring for the elderly, given the vulnerability of the people inside. Then there are government and political settings that have become part of the prohibited places for carrying firearms in New Jersey, which include voting places, police stations, courthouses, and other government buildings.

In addition, New Jersey now prohibits carrying a gun on private property where signs prohibiting firearms have been posted, including shopping malls, churches, synagogues and other places of worship as well. In other words, a person cannot enter a bar or restaurant serving alcohol, or any other of the places included under N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-4.6, even if they have a permit to carry the firearm. This set of highly restrictive firearms measures followed a request by the Governor that all of New Jersey’s many state agencies, offices, divisions, and departments assist in assembling information and options for further expanding the state’s current restrictions and regulations on firearms, including adding to the list of banned gun carry locations. He issued Executive Order No. 299 to this effect.

Third Degree Crimes for Carrying Guns in Prohibited Places in NJ

With the enactment of the new law banning guns in “sensitive places,” it became a third degree crime to carry a gun in one of the locations recognized on the list of prohibited places for firearms. If convicted, an individual faces between 3 and 5 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

However, the law faced major backlash and was immediately challenged on the basis of its constitutionality following the seminal decision in the Bruen case. After a legal challenge to the new law on Second and Fourth Amendment grounds, a federal judge prohibited law enforcement in New Jersey from applying the new regulations related to sensitive places and in vehicles. Pending further decision by a higher court, law enforcement was prohibited from enforcing the newly-enacted restrictions.

Then, a federal appeals court reversed the injunction, allowing police to arrest and charge anyone found carrying a firearm in sensitive locations like beaches and establishments where alcohol is served, as well as nursery schools, pre-schools, hospitals and healthcare facilities, entertainment venues, casinos, libraries, public parks, museums, summer camps, zoos, and public gatherings. You may be arrested and charged with a third degree crime for carrying a gun in a prohibited area in New Jersey.

What if you Violate the Rules about Permits for Carrying in NJ?

Things change substantially when someone carries their weapon without the necessary permit, as it is a second degree crime to carry a handgun without a permit in New Jersey. Severe criminal punishment also applies to carrying a firearm for an unlawful purpose like committing other crimes, which is also a second degree crime. Both of these serious felony gun law violations are punishable by five to ten years in prison and a $150,000.00 fine maximally. In addition to prison terms and fines, certain gun offenses are subject to the Graves Act, which requires mandatory minimum prison sentences to be served before prisoners become eligible for parole. That means that carrying a handgun without a permit can land you in prison for years without release on parole in sight.

Gun crimes are considered severe offenses in New Jersey, and for that reason, you need a knowledgeable and accomplished gun law attorney to defend you to the greatest extent possible if the police arrest you with an unlicensed weapon in public or for carrying a gun for illegal purposes. A tested and proven lawyer can be your best ally when the state wants to give you the maximum penalties for a gun violation. Our talented firearms attorneys can defend your constitutional rights, identify the top ways to dismantle the prosecution’s case, negotiate a plea to minimize the consequences, get a Graves Act Waiver to reduce your sentence, or assist with your acceptance into Pretrial Intervention.

Contact a gun law attorney on our team at (201)-614-2474 for a free consultation to discuss your carry violation and learn more about how we can help.