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New Jersey Firearm / Handgun Permit Qualification Law and Appeals

06
Jun
2010

by in Criminal Defense

If you have been denied a NJ firearm Purchaser ID Card or a Permit to Purchase a Handgun, call my office for a free consultation.

New Jersey has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. However, under the United States Constitution, you have the right to own a firearm, plain and simple. The process of obtaining a permit to own or possess a firearm or handgun in New Jersey can be cumbersome. Moreover, local police chiefs, who are responsible for processing such permit applications, frequently violate New Jersey law in denying these applications. You need a gun permit in New Jersey to obtain a firearm. The first step is preparing your gun permit application and submitting it to your local police department. If you have been denied a permit to purchase or possess a firearm/handgun, contact a New Jersey gun appeal lawyer.

Our Legislature has expressed the baseline presumption that all New Jersey residents are eligible to apply for and receive a New Jersey FPIC unless they meet one of the specifically enumerated disqualifying criteria. In re Boyadjian, 362 N.J. Super. 463 (App. Div.) cert. denied, 178 N.J. 250 (2003). The existence of good cause for denial of a resident’s application for a Firearm Permit Identification Card (FPIC) and Permit to Purchase a Handgun (PPH) must represent a burden to be carried by the local Police Chief, and to be established by a fair preponderance of the evidence. Weston v. State, 60 N.J. 36, 46 (N.J. 1972).

In evaluating the facts presented by the Chief, and the reasons given for rejection of the application, the reviewing court should give appropriate consideration to the Chief’s investigative experience and to any expertise he appears to have developed in administering the statute.

The governing statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3 provides, in pertinent part:

No person of good character and good repute in the community in which he lives, and who is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in this section or other sections of this chapter, shall be denied a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, except as hereinafter set forth. No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued:

  1. To any person who has been convicted of any crime, or a disorderly persons offense involving an act of domestic violence as defined in section 3 of P.L.1991,c.261(C.2C:25-19), whether or not armed with or possessing a weapon at the time of such offense;
  2. To 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;
  3. To 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; to any person who knowingly falsifies any information on the application form for a handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card;
  4. To 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;
  5. To any person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare;
  6. To any person who is subject to a restraining order issued pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) prohibiting the person from possessing any firearm;
  7. To 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); or
  8. To 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.

The broad, catchall provision in section (5) was designed to prevent firearms from coming into the hands of persons likely to pose a danger to the public. Hoffman v. Union County Prosecutor, 240 N.J. Super. 206, 211 (Law Div. 1990). This portion of the statute allows courts to review criminal charges and complaints that were ultimately dismissed or otherwise similarly disposed of, but the State bears the burden of proving that the Appellant poses a continued public or personal danger. In re Osworth, 365 N.J. Super. 72, 77-79 (App. Div. 2003). The sole issue in fitness is an applicant’s current qualification to possess a firearm; the past may only be inquired about to the extent that it reasonably relates to an applicant’s present fitness. Application of Marvin, 53 N.J. 147, 156-57 (1969) citing Schware v. Board of Bar Examiners, 353 U.S. 232, 244-47, 77 S. Ct. 752, 1 L. Ed. 2d 796, 804-06 (1957).

Where error in factfinding of a judge is alleged, the scope of appellate review is limited. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-71 (1999). The court will only decide whether the findings made could reasonably have been reached on “sufficient” or “substantial” credible evidence present in the record, considering the proof as a whole. Ibid. The court gives “due regard” to the ability of the factfinder to judge credibility. Ibid. However, a factfinding court cannot base its decision upon speculation. State v. One Marlin Rifle, 319 N.J. Super. 359, 371 (App. Div. 1999).

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