Transporting Firearms in New Jersey

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Transporting Firearms NJ

In recent years, New Jersey gun policy has been thrust into the spotlight with numerous high-profile cases, many of which involved out-of-state residents who were arrested while traveling through New Jersey with guns that they legally purchased in another state. Due to the fact that New Jersey does not provide state-to-state reciprocity with regard to gun permits, these otherwise law-abiding citizens were charged with unlawful possession of a weapon for driving through New Jersey with out-of-state permitted guns in their cars. Under New Jersey law, unlawful possession of a firearm is a second degree crime with a presumption of incarceration and a 5 to 10-year prison sentence attached. Unbeknownst to these individuals, they were committing serious felonies for errors in transportation of their firearms.

In order to avoid criminal weapons charges and the catastrophic consequences that can result, it is critical to understand and comply with New Jersey’s strict policy for transportation of firearms. At the Tormey Law Firm, our renowned New Jersey gun attorneys regularly defend New Jersey residents and those from other states who are charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and other weapons offenses. With former gun prosecutors, former members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and a former member of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s Weapons Forfeiture Unit on staff, we utilize our unique insight into gun prosecutions to build the most effective defense strategies. We work on behalf of clients across the state, including in Bergen, Morris, Essex, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties. If you or someone you love is facing weapons charges, contact us today at (201)-614-2474 for a cost-free consultation.

Transporting Firearms in New Jersey

New Jersey law is incredibly stringent with regard to transportation of firearms. The law containing exemptions for carrying and transporting firearms is outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. First and foremost, the law does not require a person to obtain a Permit to Carry a Handgun to keep or carry a firearm about his or her place of business, residence, premises, or other land owned or possessed by him or her.

Where Can I Travel with My Gun in New Jersey?

In addition, a person without a carry permit can transport his or her firearm to and from any of the following places if he or she complies with the State’s transportation policy:

  • From any place of purchase to his residence or place of business;
  • Between his dwelling and his place of business;
  • Between one place of business or residence and another when moving; or
  • Between his dwelling or place of business and place where such firearms are repaired, for the purpose of repair.

NOTE: There are also specific exemptions for individuals carrying firearms for the purposes of hunting or fishing, as well as those who are traveling to and from a target range.

How Do I Legally Transport My Gun in New Jersey?

According to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6, firearms being transported in New Jersey must comply with the following requirements:

  • Firearms must be unloaded;
  • Firearms must be contained in:
    • A closed and fastened case
    • A gunbox
    • A securely tied package, or
    • Locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported

As for ammunition, it must be transported in a separate container and locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported. If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the passenger compartment, the firearm must be in a locked container other than the vehicle’s glove compartment or console.

Is it Legal to Make a Stop while Transporting a Firearm in New Jersey?

New Jersey law specifically allows an individual transporting a firearm in the state to make deviations reasonably necessary under the circumstances if they are operating in compliance with the other necessary restrictions. This means the person is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a weapon due to other reasons outlined in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3, is traveling to and from authorized locations such as their home and place of work, and the firearm is unloaded and stored legally in the vehicle. Traveling to, and stopping at, other locations beyond what is considered reasonably necessary while in transit becomes illegal transportation of a firearm.

What is Considered a “Reasonably Necessary” Deviation in Transport?

In 2016, the New Jersey Attorney General issued Guidelines Regarding Reasonably Necessary Deviations in the Course of Travel Exception for Transporting Firearms. The guidance refers to determining the reasonably necessary deviation standard on a case-by-case basis. The purpose for, and extent of, any deviation is critical in these cases based on the totality of the circumstances. First and foremost, it provides for deviations in the course of travel while legally transporting a weapon between two authorized places. Reasonably necessary deviations must be based on two primary factors: was the stop “necessary?” and was it “reasonable,” from an objective perspective? Deciding whether someone’s stop falls within this threshold is guided by common sense and context. Some of the key considerations include:

  • The starting point and the final destination
  • The route traveled
  • How many stops, for what purpose, and for how long was the deviation
  • When and where was the vehicle parked and how long was it parked for

It is important to note that a person who is asked to provide the above information does not have to answer the officer’s questions. However, providing a reason for a necessary stop and related details may demonstrate the reasonable exception or detour. For instance, stopping to refill your gas tank at a gas station while traveling to and from work and your home can be conceived as “reasonably necessary.” Other possible deviations considered reasonable and necessary may be pulling off the highway to a rest stop to buy a soda or a meal, needing to stop at a hospital or urgent care center to seek medical care, finding the nearest charging station for an electric vehicle, or stopping for a cup of coffee, a necessity like diapers at a grocery store, or to find a bathroom for yourself or one of your passengers.

What are the Penalties for Illegally Transporting a Gun?

Violating the laws regarding legal transport of a firearm in New Jersey can result in severe penalties. When determining the potential consequences associated with a charge for unlawful possession of a firearm, it depends on the type of gun. Handguns transported illegally lead to second degree crimes for unlawful possession of a weapon. Shotguns are charged as third degree crimes for weapons possession under the same law, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. Rifles also lead to third degree charges. BB guns and air guns are third degree offenses as well. Fourth degree charges apply to defaced firearms. Then there are some situations that can lead to multiple charges. For instance, you may be charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon for transporting a gun and ammunition illegally when the bullets are improperly stored in the vehicle as well, perhaps next to the gun if they are both on the floor or in your glove box. You may also be charged with a fourth degree crime for illegal transport of a weapon under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9 and a second degree crime for unlawful gun possession if the weapon in question is a handgun.

Gun violation penalties are astoundingly heavy in New Jersey. For example, you face up to ten years in prison for unlawfully possessing a handgun. In addition, you must serve a mandatory minimum portion of your sentence before becoming eligible for release on parole, per the requirements of the Graves Act. Unless you successfully obtain a Graves Act Waiver, a firearms-related offense can mean a minimum of 42 months in prison or one-third of the sentence. The time frame for parole ineligibility must be the greater of the two. Moreover, a fourth degree charge for illegal transportation of a weapon is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. 

What Happens if You Transport a Weapon that’s Illegal in New Jersey?

New Jersey strictly prohibits certain weapons from being transported into or within the state regardless of the manner in which they are transported. Transporting a weapon that is illegal to possess in New Jersey can also lead to serious weapons charges and heavy consequences based on the weapon involved. The following are some of the guns and other weapons that you cannot transport within or through New Jersey:

Contact our Bergen County Gun Lawyers for More Information

If you have been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, illegally transporting a weapon, or another weapons offense, or have questions about transporting your gun in New Jersey, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable gun attorneys.