New Jersey Handgun Carry Permit Attorneys

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Handgun Carry Permits in NJ

In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess a handgun outside of your home or personal property without a state-issued handgun carry permit. Note, that you may obtain a New Jersey Permit to Purchase a Handgun or New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card to purchase a firearm, but neither of these will allow you to carry your firearm under the law. New Jersey law requires those seeking gun carry permits to complete an extensive application process, to which they must submit every two years in order to renew carry permits. In addition, New Jersey does not acknowledge out-of-state gun permits, meaning that travelers who legally obtain carry permits in other states may be arrested in New Jersey if they travel through the state with their firearm and have not obtained a New Jersey carry permit.

If you for some reason step outside the lines of New Jersey’s strict policy regarding carrying firearms, you may be subject to criminal charges for unlawful possession of a weapon, which can result in a significant term of incarceration among other life-altering consequences. At the Tormey Law Firm, our attorneys have specialized knowledge in the realm of New Jersey gun law and we regularly assist clients with the firearms permit process, appeals of gun permit denials, return of weapons hearings related to domestic violence, expungements to obtain gun permits, and criminal defense for those facing criminal weapons charges. Our talented New Jersey gun lawyers have experience as former prosecutors, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, criminal judicial clerks, and members of the Prosecutor’s Weapons Forfeiture Unit. We leverage our deep knowledge and resources to assist clients across New Jersey, including in Middlesex, Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Morris, and Monmouth counties. Contact us today at (201)-614-2474 for additional information and a cost-free consultation.

Handgun Carry Permits in New Jersey

New Jersey law addresses permits to carry handguns in N.J.A.C. 13:54-2.2 and 2.3, stating first and foremost that “No person, except as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6, shall carry, hold or possess a handgun without first having obtained a permit to carry the same in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.” This exposes anyone who carries a handgun without a legal permit issued in New Jersey to serious criminal charges.

N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4 delineates the criteria that an applicant must fulfill in order to be issued a carry permit. The primary requirements that an applicant must satisfy are as follows:

  1. The person must not have made any statements or performed any actions, with the exception of lawful self-defense, that would suggest their likelihood to pose a danger to themselves or the community; and not be subject to any of the disabilities which would prevent him or her from obtaining a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card;
  2. The person must demonstrate at the time of the application for the permit that he or she is thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns, and has completed a state-approved course of training and instruction; and
  3. The person must demonstrate a justifiable need to carry a handgun. The Justifiable Need Requirement has been Eliminated from the List of Mandatory Criteria for a Gun Carry Permit in New Jersey*

*In a significant legal update following the United States Supreme Court decision in N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen, No. 20-843, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Issued Attorney General Directive No. 2022-07, Clarifying Requirements For Carrying Of Firearms In Public. The Directive confirms that New Jersey can no longer require applicants to show a justifiable need for a permit to carry a handgun. The Bruen decision specifically targeted New York’s (and similar state statutes, including New Jersey’s) statutes requiring applicants for a carry permit to establish a particular need for the permit, ruling such a requirement is unconstitutional. In compliance with the ruling, the New Jersey legislature passed A4769/S3214 that eliminates the justifiable need requirement to obtain a carry permit.

In order to understand the aforementioned criteria, we must first examine what each requirement means.

What Constitutes “Good Character” Under New Jersey Law?

What was once a rather ambiguous term of “good character,” has now been further specified by the New Jersey legislature. The first requirement relates to a person’s potential danger to the public or him or herself. This means that a permit application will be rejected if the individual has stated or acted in a manner which suggests that they are likely to engage in behavior, aside from legal self-defense, that would put themselves or others at risk. Beyond the initial requirement, there are two assessments used to determine good character: personal references, and the disabilities included in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c, which governs the purchase of firearms. A gun permit applicant must submit four endorsements from reputable persons who have known the applicant for at least three years and can testify to his or her good character. Also, the applicant cannot qualify for any of the disabilities that would prevent him or her from purchasing a firearm. These include:

  • Any person who has been convicted of any crime, or a disorderly persons offense involving an act of domestic violence, whether or not armed with or possessing a weapon at the time of such offense;
  • Any drug dependent person as defined in section 2 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-2), to any person who is confined for a mental disorder to a hospital, mental institution or sanitarium, or to any person who is presently an habitual drunkard;
  • Any person who suffers from a physical defect or disease which would make it unsafe for him to handle firearms, to any person who has ever been confined for a mental disorder, or to any alcoholic unless any of the foregoing persons produces a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey, or other satisfactory proof, that he is no longer suffering from that particular disability in such a manner that would interfere with or handicap him in the handling of firearms;
  • Any person who knowingly falsifies any information on the application form for a handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card;
  • Any person under the age of 18 years for a firearms purchaser identification card and to any person under the age of 21 years for a permit to purchase a handgun;
  • Any person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare because the person is deemed to be devoid of the critical character of temperament to be safely entrusted with a firearm;
  • Any person who is subject to or has violated a temporary or final restraining order issued pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” prohibiting the person from possessing any firearm, or a temporary or final restraining order issued in another jurisdiction that prevents his or her possession of a firearm;
  • Any person who as a juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime and the offense involved the unlawful use or possession of a weapon, explosive or destructive device or is enumerated in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2);
  • Any person whose firearm is seized pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) and whose firearm has not been returned;
  • Any person named on the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
  • Any person who is subject to or has violated a court order prohibiting the custody, control, ownership, purchase, possession, or receipt of a firearm or ammunition issued pursuant to the “Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018”;
  • Any person who is subject to or has violated a court order prohibiting the custody, control, ownership, purchase, possession or receipt of a firearm or ammunition issued pursuant to a temporary protection order;
  • Any person who is subject to or has violated a temporary or final restraining order issued pursuant to the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015″;
  • Any person who has previously been voluntarily admitted to inpatient treatment or involuntarily committed to inpatient or outpatient treatment, unless the court has expunged the person’s record;
  • Any person who is subject to an outstanding arrest warrant for an indictable crime in this State or for a felony in any other state or federal jurisdiction; or
  • Any person who is a fugitive from justice due to having fled from any state or federal jurisdiction to avoid prosecution for a crime, with the exception of warrants for providing, receiving, assisting in providing or receiving, providing material support for, or traveling to obtain reproductive health care services that are considered lawful in New Jersey, or to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding.

How Can You Demonstrate Familiarity with “Safe Handling?”

In order to demonstrate your thorough familiarity with safe handling and use of firearms, you may provide proof in the form of:

  • Completion of a firearms training course substantially equivalent to the firearms training approved by the Police Training Commission as described by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6j;
  • Submission of your most recent handgun qualification scores utilizing the handgun(s) you intend to carry as evidenced by test firings administered by a certified firearms instructor of a police academy, a certified firearms instructor of the National Rifle Association, or any other recognized certified firearms instructor;
  • Completion of a course or test in the safe handling of a handgun administered by a certified firearms instructor of a police academy, a certified firearms instructor of the National Rifle Association, or any other recognized certified firearms instructor; or
  • Passage of any test in this State’s laws governing the use of force administered by a certified instructor of a police academy, a certified instructor of the National Rifle Association, or any other recognized certified instructor.

What Constitutes “Justifiable Need” Under New Jersey Law?

There are two separate standards for “justifiable need” as defined under N.J.A.C. 13:54-2.4, one of which applies to private citizens, while the other applies to employees of private detective agencies, armored car companies, and private security companies. The law with regard to justifiable need is explained as follows:

  • A private citizen must show justifiable need by specifying in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun. Where possible the applicant shall corroborate the existence of any specific threats or previous attacks by reference to reports of such incidents to the appropriate law enforcement agencies;
  • In the case of employees of private detective agencies, armored car companies and private security companies, these applicants must show that:
    • In the course of performing statutorily authorized duties, they are subject to a substantial threat of serious bodily harm; and
    • That carrying a handgun is necessary to reduce the threat of unjustifiable serious bodily harm to any person.

As stated above, justifiable need is no longer a mandatory element that must be satisfied to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in New Jersey. It has been virtually eliminated as a requirement for carry permits as of June 2022.

Expiration of Carry Permits and Permit Renewal in New Jersey

If you obtain a permit to carry a handgun in New Jersey, it will expire two years from the date of issuance. You may apply to renew your carry permit after the two-year period and will be subject to the same application process. If your carry permit expires and you fail to renew it, you may be charged criminally for possessing a weapon without a lawful permit. Also, the state has imposed liability insurance mandates, requiring carry permit owners to have proof of liability insurance with minimum limits of $300,000.00 for injury, death, or property damage due to firearm ownership and use. If you fail to have the required insurance, you may also be charged criminally with a fourth degree crime.

Options if Your Carry Permit is Rejected in NJ

Anyone whose permit to carry a handgun is rejected has the right to request a hearing in court before a judge. In January 2020, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided a case which determined if a hearing should be conducted by New Jersey Superior Courts when a carry permit is denied. The person must submit a formal, written request to the Superior Court in the county where the application was filed within 30 days of the rejected application. The court is required to hold a hearing within 60 days of receiving the request and the presiding judge must issue their decision within 14 days of the hearing date. If the state rejects your gun permit application, seek help from our well-versed gun lawyers, who can ensure that the permit denial did not infringe upon your Second Amendment rights and help you appeal your rejected application.

Contact our Local Middlesex County Gun Carry Permit Lawyers for Assistance

If you are considering applying for a handgun carry permit, have begun the application process, are seeking an appeal after a carry permit denial, or must renew your carry permit in New Jersey, our NJ gun lawyers can help. Contact us today at (201)-614-2474 for a free consultation.