What’s more in the news today than guns? Our state has one of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S., in large part because there’s nothing in the New Jersey Constitution protecting a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for ordinary citizens. To summarize our gun control laws:
Permits to purchase and own:
· The minimum age to purchase a gun in New Jersey is 18.
· New Jersey requires a permit for the purchase of handguns and a separate firearm identification card for the purchase of long guns (i.e. rifles and shotguns), both requiring a background check.
· The permit to purchase a handgun expires after 90 days while the firearm identification card lasts a lifetime.
· Only one handgun per month may be purchased.
· New Jersey prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm by persons convicted of crimes and misdemeanor domestic violence offenses, by persons subject to protective orders and by persons on the federal terror watch list.
· All firearms dealers and ammunition sellers are required to maintain records of all transactions of firearms and ammunition.
· New Jersey prohibits the possession and transfer of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
· Firearm owners are required to report the loss or theft of their firearms.
Permits to carry and transport:
· Since New Jersey is a may-issue permit system, authorities are allowed discretion in the approval and denial of applications, subject to a background check, training and range qualification.
· For non law enforcement applicants to obtain a permit, they submit a detailed letter attached to their application demonstrating a justifiable need, meaning “urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.”
· Contrastingly, retired law enforcement officers are eligible to obtain a permit, administered by the Superintendent of the State Police, to carry a handgun without specific justifiable need.
· Exempted locations where a person may carry and possess firearms are the person’s home, place of business, land possessed, or to a gunsmith.
· Legal firearm owners may carry their firearms to a place of target practice or an authorized target range.
· Legal firearm owners may carry their firearms to the woods for purposes of hunting with a valid hunting or fishing license, provided that the firearms are appropriate for such activities.
· Any person who may lawfully possess and carry firearms may transport the firearms to any other place he may lawfully possess or carry such firearm, provided that during its transportation, the firearm is unloaded and is inaccessible.
One “fast fact” – made with no political agenda on the issue. Although New Jersey had the 5th lowest number of gun deaths per capita in the U.S. in 2013, New Hampshire had a gun death rate only a little higher than here, with relatively permissive gun policies. So, stricter gun control laws are not necessarily the sole cause of lower gun-related deaths. Kieu-Nhi Le, Rutgers School of Law Newark candidate for a JD degree in May 2016. She is the Managing Business Editor of the Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal collaborated with me on this blog.