Obtaining a Gun License in New Jersey

Handgun store shelves. A handgun for sale in the store.
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New Jersey residents can legally own firearms as long as they apply for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card or Handgun Purchase Permit. They fill out a firearms application with their local police department in their municipality or with the state police if they do not have a municipal police department.

New Jersey Firearms Permit Requirements

When applying for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC) or Handgun Purchase Permit in the state of New Jersey, applicants must meet certain requirements. They must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age for a firearm or 21 years of age for a handgun.
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with safely handling firearms by completing a firearm training permit class.
  • Give a good reason for their need to carry a firearm.

The applicant must have three references from people who have known them for at least three years. They must also meet federal law requirements to possess firearms.

Firearm Possession Prohibitions in New Jersey

Federal law generally prohibits individuals from buying or possessing firearms if they have felony convictions, domestic violence misdemeanors or court orders related to domestic violence, or a mental condition. The state prohibits certain people from possessing firearms and ammunition, including any individual:

  • With a criminal conviction of aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, arson, bias intimidation, burglary, carjacking, domestic violence, escape, endangering the welfare of a child, extortion, gang criminality, homicide, kidnapping, racketeering, robbery, sexual assault, stalking, terroristic threats, unlawful possession of an assault firearm, handgun or machine gun, leading a firearms trafficking network or certain weapons-related offenses.
  • Committed to a mental institution or sanitarium unless they possess a certificate from a doctor or psychiatrist licensed to practice in New Jersey that they longer have a mental disorder that interferes with or handicaps them when handling a firearm.
  • Convicted of the possession, sale or unlawful use of a controlled or dangerous substance unless the offense was a disorderly person's offense or a petty disorderly person's offense.

Individuals with a domestic violence disorderly offense and those subject to a domestic violence restraining order or an ex parte order may also be forbidden from acquiring and possessing guns.

An individual under a protection order concerning a judicial officer and someone convicted in another jurisdiction (foreign or domestic) of a crime comparable to those listed above cannot buy or possess a gun in New Jersey.

New Jersey License Prohibitions

An individual in New Jersey cannot get a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card or Handgun Purchase Permit if:

  • They have a criminal conviction. According to New Jersey law, a crime is "an offense defined by this code or by any other statute of this state, for which a sentence of imprisonment in excess of six months is authorized."
  • They have a disorderly person's offense, which involves domestic violence. The person may or may not be armed when the offense occurs.
  • They are habitually drunk or drug dependent.
  • They have been confined to a hospital, mental institution or sanitarium for a mental disorder.
  • They have a mental disorder or suffer from a disease or defect, making it unsafe for them to use firearms unless they can show "satisfactory proof" that they are no longer suffering from that particular malady.
  • They will not waive statutory or other rights of confidentiality regarding confinement in an institution.
  • They knowingly falsify information on their application.
  • They are under 18 when applying for an FPIC or under 21 for a handgun permit.
  • A restraining order prohibits them from possessing a firearm.
  • Law enforcement has seized their firearm for a domestic violence offense and has not returned it.

Individuals named on the FBI's terrorist watch list cannot have a firearm license or permit, nor can those who are subject to a protection order concerning a judicial officer. They can also be refused a license when doing so is not in the interest of the public's safety, health or welfare. Furthermore, the individual must be of "good character and good repute in the community."

Applying for FPIC in New Jersey

Individuals must apply for an FPIC through their local police department. They can apply through their municipality's New Jersey state police station if they do not have a municipal department. Out-of-state residents can apply for an FPIC through the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).

Residents can also apply for an FPIC online through the state's Firearms Applicant Registration System (FARS). Before they do, they must contact their local police department to get an Originating Agency Identification (ORI) Number. The application process is incomplete without it, and their application fee will not be refunded if the application is denied.

In New Jersey, an FPIC fee is $5, a criminal history check is $20, and both are payable via debit card, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express.

How to Apply for a Handgun Permit

New Jersey residents must apply for a handgun permit with the municipal police department in their area, unless New Jersey State Police services their location. Out-of-state residents can also apply for a handgun permit through the New Jersey State Police. No matter their residence location, armored car workers must apply with the New Jersey State Police at their nearest station.

Individuals applying for a handgun permit will use the same application as if they were applying for an FPIC. A handgun permit is $2, and a criminal history check is $20. Fees are payable via debit card, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express.

Fingerprints and the Application Process

Applicants must submit fingerprints when applying for their initial FPIC, for a change of sex on their FPIC, or for a handgun permit. They must also submit fingerprints for each handgun permit renewal.

Applicants can schedule a fingerprinting appointment with IdentoGo after successfully submitting their application. Fingerprint fees must be paid at the time they schedule the appointment. They can learn the fee amount from their local police department or the state police station when they apply.

Process for Buying Rifles and Shotguns in New Jersey

A seller of rifles and shotguns is responsible for ascertaining that a buyer has a valid FPIC and photo identification to complete a Certificate of Eligibility for each firearm they purchase. The information on the buyer's FPIC must match their ID to be valid.

Buyers can download a Certificate of Eligibility or obtain one at a licensed firearms dealer in the state. They must complete all firearms transactions at the retail location of the state-licensed firearms dealer. However, there are some exceptions to this rule if the transactions take place with:

  • Immediate family members.
  • Law enforcement officers.
  • Collectors with a Collector of Curios and Relics License from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Process for Buying Handguns

A seller of handguns is responsible for ascertaining that a buyer has a valid handgun permit and photo identification to complete a Certificate of Eligibility for each firearm they purchase. The information on the buyer's handgun permit must match their ID to be valid.

In New Jersey, the buyer and seller must complete a handgun permit for each handgun transferred in this state. After completion, the seller is responsible for forwarding copies of the handgun permit to the appropriate authorities.

Buyers must complete all handgun transactions at the retail location of a state-licensed firearms dealer. However, there are some exceptions to this rule if the transactions take place with:

  • Immediate family members.
  • Law enforcement officers.
  • Collectors with a Collector of Curios and Relics License from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Illegal Firearms in New Jersey

These firearms are illegal to own in New Jersey:

  • Assault weapons:​ Semi-automatic rifles with more than two military features which may include bayonet mounts, folding stocks, grenade launchers, pistol grips and threading to accept a sound suppressor. The state's ban specifically names several assault rifle brands, but any guns modeled after AR-15s or AK-47s are banned.
  • Machine guns:​ These guns fire more than one bullet when the trigger is pulled. Even those legally owned and federally registered under the National Firearms Act are illegal in New Jersey.
  • Short-barreled rifles and shotguns:​ Even those legally owned and federally registered under the National Firearms Act are illegal in New Jersey.
  • Sound suppressors:​ These devices, even on air rifles, are illegal in New Jersey.

Revolving shotguns – guns holding shells in a revolving cylinder – are illegal in the state. Under New Jersey's original assault weapons laws, magazines had a 15-round limit and anything over this was illegal. This amount was also included in antique firearms where the magazine was not removable, however, new legislation has lowered the capacity to 10 rounds.

Out-of-State and Military Gun Ownership

Dual residents showing proof of residency in New Jersey can legally own a gun in the state. They can establish proof with a valid, government-issued ID, a tax record or a utility bill showing their New Jersey address.

Additionally, a person can legally possess a gun in New Jersey if they have military orders showing that they are stationed in the state and provide these orders with their FPIC or Handgun Permit application to a police department. To be considered dual residents, applicants must offer proof at the time of the firearms purchase.

Inheritance of Firearms

A person who inherits a firearm does not need an FPIC or handgun purchase permit. However, it must be legal to possess that type of gun, and the individual receiving it must not be prohibited from owning a firearm in the state.

If the heir does not qualify, they can retain ownership for up to 180 days if they transfer the firearm to their municipality's chief law enforcement officer or superintendent during that time.

Relinquishing or Selling Firearms

Those wishing to get rid of their firearms in New Jersey can contact their police department to have them destroyed. According to N.J.S. 2C:39-12 Voluntary Surrender2, individuals must provide written notice with the proposed date and time of surrender to their municipality's chief law enforcement officer or superintendent in their area before transporting the gun to the police department.

Those wishing to sell a gun in New Jersey can contact a gun shop to inquire if they want to purchase the firearm. If they do, the dealer must provide the gun owner with a written receipt showing they took possession of the firearm.