What you need to know before you go over the river and through the woods with your handgun or firearm this Christmas and New Year’s party
For those traveling outside of Pennsylvania this holiday season, Christmas, and New Year and who enjoy the security of carrying their firearm—BEWARE! You just can’t jump in your car with your gun and hit the road, especially if you headed over the bridge into the states of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey or New York! Don’t assume distance matters when it comes to handgun reciprocity. If you fail to follow the law of state, you could be arrested and possibly convicted of a felony offense
Ignorance is never a defense and neither is the need to protect your family, your property or expensive gifts for family and friends! While most judges and even prosecutors may somewhat empathize with parent or guardian who offers this as an excuse, it may not do much to change a criminal charge. While many states including New Jersey do consider an out of state permit as a possible mitigation (Graves Partial and Full Waiver) a convicted person still faces a possible criminal record and at the very least an arrest record which could substantially hinder future employment and other professional opportunities
Do you live in a “shall issue” or a “may issue” state?
Remember Pennsylvania is a “shall issue” state whereas New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut, are “may issue” states that sometimes really just means that you can’t get a permit to carry a handgun any of them! While Delaware is a “may issue” state, in practice, it operates as a “shall issue” jurisdiction. There are other “may issue” jurisdictions like Delaware such as California and Alabama. In addition, there are “no issue” jurisdictions of Illinois, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia that simply don’t allow citizens to carry concealed handguns.
“Shall issue” states include the following jurisdictions: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Pennsylvania has reciprocity with all of these jurisdictions but traveling into “may issue” or “no issue” states with gun is an extremely serious crime! At the very least, the police officer is obligated to arrest you no matter how cute your family appears and no matter how important the “last trip” see granny is to them. For more information about gun laws in Pennsylvania, visit my free download section and read a copy of my book—What Everyone Needs to Know About Guns, Drugs & Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania vs. New Jersey – Permits to carry
Unlike Pennsylvania, most individuals aren’t able to obtain a license to carry a handgun in New Jersey. Any person who wants to carry in the State must make an application to the New Jersey State Police or local law enforcement. In addition to this application, the person must submit the names of 3 “reputable persons” who have known the applicant for 3 years and who can certify that the person is of “good moral character and behavior.”
In addition to these requirements the applicant needs to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun or a Firearm Purchaser Identification Card. The applicant must also demonstrate “thorough familiarity” with the safe handling and use of a handgun through an approved firearms training course.
Finally, the applicant must show a justifiable need to carry a handgun. The applicant must indicate this need in written certification under oath. The need must show in detail the following:
- An urgent necessity for self protection
- specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that can’t be avoided by other than the issuance of permit to carry
- Possible corroboration of threats/violence – Police Reports of previous incidents
Even if the applicant satisfies all of these requirements, a Superior Court Judge for that county in New Jersey must approve the issuance of the permit. If the permit is issued, its only good for 2 years and renewal applications are subject to the same requirements.
Final Point – Never give consent to search your car, home or place of business
The issue of consent is critical in gun cases. Police often find evidence of these crimes after a person is initially detained and there is an investigation following that stop. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits a police officer or any law enforcement officer from conducting a search without a warrant.
The warrant needs to be supported by probable cause to authorize the search. The warrant, however, is not required where a person unequivocally and specifically consents to the search.
In order to consent to the search, however, the person either explicitly or implicitly must have the authority (ownership or possession), over interest in the area searched. In Pennsylvania, if the prosecution wants to establish a valid search it must prove that the consent was given during a legal police stop (i.e. a lawful detention or investigation). If the consent was given during an illegal police stop, the prosecution must prove that the consent was given voluntarily and not the result of the illegal investigation or detention. Unlike Pennsylvania, warrantless searches of cars and vehicles in New Jersey are legal
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