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How to get your gun in New Jersey – a layman’s guide

New Jersey requires permits to purchase firearms – for longarms, it’s a Firearms Purchasers ID card, issued once and good for life (unless revoked, or you move; it has your street address on it). This card is de jure and practically de facto shall-issue, the only quirk being that, while the legislature wrote a “must issue within 30 days (45 for out-of-state applicants)” into the law, the NJ Judiciary interpreted this as “must issue after the background check is complete;” in effect neutralizing the time limit. Now, while the form to apply for a FPID and the process is uniform statewide, it is administered by the local Chief Law Enforcement officer or the New Jersey State Police for jurisdictions without their own police agency. Furthermore, some jurisdictions have had long-standing traditions and or municipal regulations of having additional requirements not specified in the law, such as additional forms beyond the application and mental health release (Available on the NJSP’s website as PDFs to save and print), interview requirements, and other impediments to the process to purchase a firearm. Of late there is an effort by the NJ Second Amenment Society to sue non-compliant governments to force them to comply with the law, this has been mostly successful with out of court settlements in most cases. Unfortunately, due to the caselaw, the 30-day time limit is not subject to being enforced by lawsuit, so the time it takes to actually receive the FPID is highly variable – my town is generally considred to be middle-of-the-road and I required 6+ weeks both times I applied. Applicants in other towns have had to threaten or actually sue as their wait time approached moths or even a year+. The card itself neither laminated nor standard credit-card size, nor a photo ID. It had your identifying info on one side, and your signature, the CLEO signature, and your fingerprint on the other. It allows you to purchase longarms, as long as you fill out a transfer form and if buying from an FFL, undergo a state-run background check (I understand the FFL calls the NJSP, who runs a quick file check and a NICS check). The last time I bought a longarm it took less time to process that check than it did for me to fill out the 4473 and NJ’s own transfer form.

For handguns, you instead use a Permit to Purchase a Handgun. The application process is exactly the same as the process for obtaining a Firearm Purchasers ID Card, down to using the exact same forms (only checking a different box) – because you need to show an FPID and have the transaction logged when purchasing ammunition from an FFL (ammo for rentals is generally exempt from this requirement), it’s generally considered wise to obtain an FPID at the same time you get your first pistol permit to both take advantage of being able to use the same forms and to be able to buy ammunition retail. Note than “handgun ammo” is considered to be “any ammo that can be used in a handgun,” and includes both “traditional” pistol calibers and .22lr at least. I believe most FFLs log all ammo purchases, but since my only firearms eat 9mm and .22lr, I don’t know for sure. Once complete, you receive a paper form good for 90 days, which can be extended for 90 more days (de jure non-discretionary, and usually de facto as well). This may be used to purchase 1 handgun either privately or through an FFL. If through an FFL, another background check at point of sale applies.

Now, the legislation setting up this scheme was passed in the late 1960s, and the fees were specified at that time and have not been adjusted since then. Consequently, they are relatively trivial; though there is an additional fee nowadays since the entire state now jobs out the fingerprinting to a private company who charges not quite $60 for the job. Fingerprinting is not necessarily required for subsequent paperwork obtained from the same issuing authority as before (at their discretion). Without fingerprinting, the cost is generally under $50 to get a set of permits, often much less. So what some enthusiasts will do is apply for mulitple permits (currently there’s no reason to have more than 3 live ones due to NJ’s one-handgun-a-month scheme), and refresh/replace as the come due, so that they always have the ability to buy a handgun without having to wait out the normal process. If your issuing authority is reasonable, this isn’t a terribly expensive way to go, other than being an unconstitutional tax on the right to obtain a firearm, of course :)

(Obligatory Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, particularly not one who specializes in NJ firearms law. I’m just some guy on the internet who claims to have read the statutes once or twice).

For more resources see:

The NJSP Firearms FAQ

The NJSP links to NJ Firearms Laws and AG guidelines - that last includes the current “interpretation:” of the NJ AWB

The NJ2AS News and Resources page

The NJ2AS guide on purchasing a firearm in NJ - includes a link to their Operation Establish Compliance page

And, of course, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, our NRA state org.

Quote of the Day: Shaneen Allen Edition

Fordam law professor Nicholas Johnson challenges Americans over the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:

A final question, and this one is not rhetorical: Will the people who invoke the power and rhetoric of civil rights to condemn the disparate treatment of heroin and crack dealers, come to the rescue of a law-abiding Black woman whose crime was misunderstanding the multilayered bureaucracies that restrict the federally-guaranteed constitutional right to arms?

Shaneen Allen failed to appreciate that only one piece of the right to keep and bear arms operates in New Jersey. She perhaps concluded that two high-profile Supreme Court opinions affirming the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, plus a Pennsylvania license to carry a concealed firearm, would be enough to secure her right to carry a gun for self-defense, even in New Jersey. She was mistaken, and might be faulted for her slippery grasp of U.S. federalism. But with that as her crime, she is still infinitely more worthy of being rescued than anyone on the recent list of presidential pardons.

So far, there have been no protests or demonstrations seeking justice for Shaneen Allen. Like Otis McDonald, she is ignored by the nominal defenders of civil rights. Let us hope that this is not the end of the story.

I sincerely hope it’s not the end. If she’s convicted, I fully expect Chris Christie to commute her sentence, to be followed by a full pardon once she’s gone through the process. I think what’s happened to Allen is egregious enough that Pennsylvania should refuse extradition. If she’s in free America, fuck what the New Jersey courts demand. We should refuse to turn her over if the State of New Jersey refuses to do the right thing.

She could be any one of you or me.

UPDATE: I should make clear when I say “fully expect,” that doesn’t mean I think he’ll actually do it. That means “fully expect” if he wants me to consider him a viable candidate for President in 2016. And oh yeah, there’s still Brian Aitken too, who could use a full pardon. I’m more open to a Christie candidacy than others, especially when I hear talk of Romney running again, but only if he does the right thing by Aitken and Allen.

With New Jersey, Options are Limited

I agree with this writer than Shaneen Allen is not collateral damage, and the law is working as the legislature intended it, and I agree with this too:

The video above makes a case for eliminating mandatory minimums to increase a judges discretion.  That isn’t a just solution.  It would still be a crime to simply possess a firearm with no criminal intent or history.   If Shaneen shouldn’t face the penalty (I agree she shouldn’t) the state has prescribed for those who possess a firearm outside of narrow exemptions, why should any other gun owner?

But I’ve long advocated that we have to recognize reality, push for what we can get, and not let perfect be the enemy of good. The reality is that this is New Jersey: the legislature is never going to change the gun laws in the manner above, unless that change is forced on them by the courts.

But they might be able to look at the Allen case an at least agree to ease up on the law a bit so otherwise law abiding people don’t find themselves looking at years in a New Jersey prison for a mistake. In truth, even that is likely an uphill battle. It would be a huge deal if the New Jersey legislature even started looking at gun owners and said, “Not all of these people should be in prison.” That would be a sea change in attitude in the Garden State.

I’m not certain whether Dancer has any chance to even get his bill a hearing. It very well might just be a means to signal support, knowing full well it’s doomed to languish in the Democratically controlled, anti-gun legislature. But I’m inclined to support it nonetheless. Only two things are going to push New Jersey back from its current position: federal courts, or a federal legislative remedy under the 14th Amendment. That’s it.

Law Proposed in New Jersey: “Shaneen’s Law”

Assemblyman Ron Dancer of New Jersey has introduced “Shaneen’s Law,” legislation that would give judges the option of not sending citizens like Shaneen Allen to prison. Allen, if you recall, was the mother from Pennsylvania who had a Pennsylvania LTC, and didn’t know it was invalid in New Jersey until she was pulled over and told the officer she was armed. Atlantic County Prosecutor, James P. McClain, threw the book at her.

I’m glad to see someone at least trying to do something about this. Of course, I’d rather stop this with reciprocity, but that’s a long way off for the Garden State. Maybe Assemblyman Dancer’s bill has a chance to go somewhere.

I really want the anti-gunners to explain to me what public interest is served in sending Shaneen Allen to prison? She’s not a threat to anyone. There was never anyone that was victimized by her actions. What purpose does it serve to separate a mother from her child to house her in a prison at taxpayer expense? Is this the America you really want to live in? In an article that would make even the most “law and order” Republican cringe, anti-gun activist Bryan Miller has already answered that question. Sadly, I believe the answer is yes, because when she picked up the gun and put it in her purse, to those people, she became something less than a human being.

UPDATE: This post originally mentioned Shaneen Allen was persecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor. Atlantic County is where she was persecuted. We apologize for the error.

Call 911 for Medical Help, Get Arrested

What if someone stabs you in the neck in your own home? You might call 911 for assistance, right? Well, doing that will end up with the police breaking open your gun safe in New Jersey – just so they can see if you have anything they can nab you on, rather than the person who assaulted you.

That’s just what happened when a man called 911 after his wife stabbed him in the neck. They police demanded that he open the safes so they could remove his securely stored firearms. He didn’t cooperate, so they called in a crew to force them open and then arrested him for having too much black powder and ammunition, according to the article. The police also admit that they aren’t closely cataloging the guns, just tossing them in barrels and they’ll get around to it later.

Christie Vetos the Magazine Ban

From ANJRPC:

Today Governor Christie vetoed A2006 / S993, legislation (http://tinyurl.com/pxxpja3) that would have banned firearms magazines larger than 10 rounds and would have banned an entire class of popular .22 caliber semi-automatic rifles. The veto marks the end of the road for this legislation for the 2014-2015 session.
“After months of intense battle over this misguided legislation that won’t stop another crime or prevent another tragedy, we are grateful that Governor Christie has heard the voice of the outdoor community and ended the discussion,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “The Governor clearly recognizes the difference between legislation that punishes violent criminals vs. legislation that targets the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Time is Running Out for New Jersey Gun Owners

ANJRPC is alerting members to keep up the pressure on Gov. Chris Christie:

Please keep urging Governor Christie to veto A2006 / S993 (gun ban / mag ban). We must continue to mount a sustained campaign until the Governor acts. If he takes no action, the bill will automatically become law when the deadline passes in early July. Talking points on this legislation can be found here.

Jersey City Trying to Manipulate Industry Into Screwing Us

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

Gun-control advocates and firearms industry representatives said Jersey City is the first municipality in the nation to demand such information. Questions include how firms dispose of old weapons and comply with background-check laws, and whether they make semiautomatic rifles—often called assault weapons—for sale to civilians, according to bid documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The requirement went into effect earlier this year for gun and ammunition contracts worth at least $500,000 for Jersey City’s 800-member police force. The purpose: to try to change the firearms industry through the power of the city purse.

This is part of the efforts of the Bloomberg gun control organizations to attempt to strong-arm gun manufacturers and distributors into participating into their gun control schemes. I’d note that any manufacturer or distributor who goes along with Jersey City’s, or any other city’s requirements, will suffer the Smith & Wesson treatment. Smith & Wesson suffered under a massive boycott in the late 90s, early aughts, when their former British owners colluded with the Clinton Administration and Andrew Cuomo (then HUD director):

The two companies that are bidding for Jersey City business—Atlantic Tactical of Pennsylvania and Lawmen Supply Co. of Pennsauken, N.J.—are respected regional companies that sell to law enforcement but aren’t national household names.

Links to the businesses added by me. They look like Law Enforcement supply shops, so we may not have a whole lot of sway over their actions if they mostly don’t sell to civilians. I also don’t want to hang a company out to dry that truthfully answers “Why yes, we sell semi-automatic firearms to civilians if the fulfill the federal requirements and pass a background check, and yes, we do resell surplus police firearms under the same conditions. Here’s our bid, you can take it or leave it.” What we have to watch for are companies who agree to stop selling to civilians, or agree to destroy surplus firearms rather than resell them to civilians.

Some activists in New Jersey may want to familiarize themselves with New Jersey’s FOIA equivalent, if they have one, and start looking into what they are asking, and what answers are being provided. We have to make sure that cities who do this are punished, by no one wanting to do business with them.

NJ Ban Passes: Time to Put Pressure on Chris Christie

The gun and magazine ban passed the New Jersey Senate by a vote of 22-17, so it now heads to the Governor’s desk. Please contact Governor Christie and ask him to veto the magazine and gun ban. Needless to say the other side is pleased:

Let us do our level best to make this a short-lived victory for them. I believe there is a good chance we can convince Governor Christie to veto this.

NJ Smart Gun Law of Unintended Consequences

New Jersey lawmakers are offering to repeal their smart gun law if “the NRA agrees to stop standing in the way of smart gun technology.” John Richardson notes they misunderstand the nature of this movement, and I think he’s correct, but the fact is that opposition to this technology has only become fierce because lawmakers have chosen to mandate it. Lawmakers in New Jersey should repeal the law because it’s the right thing to do, not because we agree to any “deal.”

Now that we know lawmakers are eager to mandate the technology, they have forever soiled the idea. How do we know as soon as the technology becomes “available,” and the community doesn’t pound them, that New Jersey, California, or any of the other states with legislatures innately hostile to Second Amendment rights, won’t just re-manadate them with new legislation?

Forbes’s cyber-security writer ran a very good article over the weekend describing the inherent problems with Smart Gun technology. I am an electrical engineer by training, and I can confidently say that with current technology, it would be impossible to make a smart gun that would be even close to the reliability of a mechanical firearm. Armatix’s solution, or similar solution, is probably the most reliable, but it requires a watch, ring, or implant or some sort, and would also be very susceptible to jamming. There’s also the political problem, brought up in the Forbes article:

As I described in another previous article, smartguns may be susceptible to government tracking or jamming. How hard would it be for the government to require manufacturers to surreptitiously include in computer-enhanced weapons some circuitry that would allow law enforcement to track – or even to disable – the weapons? Before dismissing such a fear as silly paranoia, consider that the US government is alleged to have secretly installed malware onto thousands of networks and placed spy chips into computers, it has admitted to spying on its own citizens, is believed to have prohibited technology companies from divulging its spying on US citizens, and is known to have lost track of weapons whose locations it intended to monitor. Should private citizens really be confident that such a government will not want to keep tabs on their guns?

How long before Smart Gun technology is introduced, will it not only be mandated, but the next “common sense gun safety law” is to allow a means for government or law enforcement to disable them at a whim? How long before the smart technology mandates that it broadcast its presence so police know when approaching someone whether they are armed? This is all just “common sense.”

Sorry, but the subject has been ruined because we know what the end game is. It would be smart of us to keep fighting smart gun technology, now that they’ve revealed they have a desire to mandate it. Regardless of what kind of deal New Jersey legislators think they can cut now, they’ve forever ruined whatever trust might have existed within the firearm community. Smart guns are now viewed as a bad thing, and nothing will be able to undo the damage done by anti-gun activists and legislators who gave us a reason to kill this technology in its infancy.

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