Who May Obtain a Firearm?

January 20, 2020

It is a constitutional right to own a firearm. Yet many people in these troubled times that we live, in which we are seeing a spike in gun sales, are confused about what constitutes legal gun ownership and legal usage of those firearms. I am going to run a series explaining the difference between legal and illegal firearms acquisition, usage and carrying.

Who may obtain a firearm?  

No person of good character and good repute in the community in which they live shall be denied a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms identification card. Unless:

1)      They have been convicted of any crime or a disorderly persons offense which involves an act of domestic violence.

2)      They are a drug dependent person, confined for a mental disorder to a hospital, mental institution or sanitarium or who is presently an habitual drunkard.

3)      They are a person who suffers from any physical defect or disease which would make it unsafe for him/her to handle firearms, have been confined for a mental disorder or  are an alcoholic, unless; any of the foregoing persons produce a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey, or other satisfactory proof, that he/she is no longer suffering from that particular disability in such a manner that would interfere with or handicap him/her in the handling of firearms.

4)      They have knowingly falsified any information on the application form for a handgun purchase permit or firearms identification card.

5)      They are under the age of 18 for a firearms purchaser identification card or under the age of 21 for a permit to purchase a handgun.

6)      The issuance to that person would not be in the interest of the public, health, safety or welfare.

7)      They are the subject of a restraining order issued pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991”.

8)      They were adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile 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 device.

9)      They had their firearms seized pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 and the weapons were not returned.

N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c

It is important to remember that the initial decision as to whether or not an applicant falls under any of these categories, which would cause their application to fail,  is made by the Chief of Police in the town you live in or the superintendent of the State Police if your town does not have its own police force. These decisions are not made by a court of law. A court of law will only get involved if an applicant is denied and wants to appeal.  As a citizen of the State of New Jersey and the United States you have the  right to have a firearm and the burden is on the State to establish that you do not have that right.  An arbitrary decision by the Chief of Police will not stand if it is not based on the statutory criteria.

As you can see, if you have an interest in having firearms, a domestic violence restraining order will seriously limit your ability to obtain one. Before entering a plea to an act of domestic violence, you must remember that once that order is entered it has no time limit and conceivably will never go away. You will be banned from legally obtaining guns until the order is dismissed or rescinded which is very difficult to do without the victim’s acquiescence. This order will stay in effect for the rest of your life.

The police routinely will arbitrarily use the clause that issuance is not “in the interest, of the public’s health safety and welfare” to deny an applicant’s constitutional right.   This rather vague standard is a catch-all provision for people who the police have determined are undesirable but are unable to articulate why. If you are denied either a permit to purchase or a firearm identification card based on this  clause, you should contact me to fight this denial. Again, the burden is on the government to prove that you are not eligible.

I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to be careful when filling out your application. An overzealous police force or one that sees you as being unworthy to give a permit to purchase will sometimes take an innocent inaccuracy or misinterpretation in your application and turn it into a “knowing falsification” of your application and try to charge you criminally. Again, call me to help you fight for your rights as a United States citizen.

I have the experience, the compassion, and the credentials to help you with your legal issue. If you feel that your application for a firearms identification card or permit to purchase has been improperly denied call my office to set up a free consultation.