I’ve written previous articles on the various illegal gun and firearm charges in the state of New Jersey and the mandatory minimum sentencing under the Garden State’s Graves Act. The laws in New Jersey are much stiffer than in Pennsylvania. While the Commonwealth is a “shall issue” state the state of New Jersey is a “may issue” state. While the term “may issue” appears that New Jersey regularly issues permit to carry handguns, it is the complete opposite!
In New Jersey, unlike Pennsylvania, a person who wishes to obtain a permit to carry must submit an application which not only requires the local police chief or the superintendent of the state police’s approval, but also court ordered approval. The purpose of this article is to clarify the process to obtain a handgun to avoid carrying guns illegally in the Garden State and being subjected to a state mandatory minimum sentence. Please keep in mind that New Jersey and Pennsylvania do not have reciprocity regarding permits to carry. If you have a permit to carry in Pennsylvania, New Jersey will not recognize it. While a Pennsylvania permit to carry may mitigate a New Jersey criminal conviction at trial or following a plea, you are still subject to a state mandatory minimum sentence unless your attorney can negotiate a Graves Act waiver or potentially pre-trial intervention (PTI).
If you want to obtain a permit to carry in New Jersey, you must submit an application along with the following:
- 3 good character endorsements
- 4 passport size photos
- Training and marksmanship scores (70% or better)
- Familiarity with safe handling and use of handguns
- Demonstrated justifiable need
- Approval by the chief of police
- Final approval from a county superior court judge
What is justifiable need?
New Jersey defines justifiable need as “an urgent necessity for self-protection as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger in the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.” (2C: 58-4)
In addition to police approval, a court can also require the county prosecutors input on the application. Based on my experience it is highly unlikely that the police or county prosecutor’s office will support the application. If it is denied, the applicant is entitled to a hearing. The court may still order the permit approval despite police objection. If the court denies the permit application, the applicant is not entitled to any appeal.
There are exceptions to the permit to carry law in New Jersey for active and retired law enforcement, along with armed security who work for armored car companies. New Jersey’s application process is extensive; a permit is required to even own a handgun in the Garden State. If you have questions about purchasing firearms in Pennsylvania or New Jersey I encourage you to keep reading this blog and subscribe to our weekly update.
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