The Firearms Identification Card Gun Permit Process

NJ gun permitThis page outlines the NJ Gun Permit application process. For information on Gun Permit Appeals, click HERE. In, New Jersey the law states that it is illegal to purchase or possess a firearm unless you possess a valid New Jersey Firearms Identification card, or gun permit as it is more commonly known. It should be noted that there is a difference between purchase and possession. There are very specific exceptions to the general prohibition against possession. This is what aligns New Jersey law to the second amendment. When it comes to purchasing a firearm however, there is no exception. To legally purchase a firearm in the state of New Jersey you must have a valid NJ gun permit.

The first step is to complete the state mandated STS-033 application. This basic one-page form requires basic information about the applicant. The questions concern the applicant’s residence, background, medical history, employment, criminal history, and reference information. It is worth noting that there is a New Jersey statute that requires police departments to use this particular form and nothing else. A separate law states that Police Departments may not add additional questions to the form. Once the application is completed it is filed with the local police in the town in which the applicant lives. In the event that a town does not have a police department the applicant can file the application at the nearest state police barracks. The applicant must also pay a fee of $5 for the application plus $2 for each additional handgun permit requested.

In addition to the FID application, a Consent for Mental Health records form must be completed. This is another one page questionnaire that asks basic information. By signing this form you are consenting to allow the police department to check with the County Adjuster’s office to find out if a person has ever been committed to a mental health institution. This includes voluntary and involuntary commitments. No actual medical records are released. A narrative of the reason for admission may be released and the police may gather other public records to find out more about the commitment.

Once the mental health form and gun permit application are filed, the applicant must be fingerprinted. In New Jersey, a company known as IdentoGO provides the fingerprinting services for the state. The applicant must make an appointment with the company and pay a fee to have their fingerprints taken.  Once the fingerprints have been competed, the applicant waits for a response from the state police.

The police typically take several steps in order to reach a decision on an NJ gun permit application. First, they send out letters to the references provided by the applicant. The named references are asked general questions about the applicant, the most important of which being whether or not the reference would have any concerns about the applicant owning a firearm. Applicants should follow-up with their references to ensure that they have been contacted by the police. Unfortunately, I have seen several cases in which the police deny an application simply because they could not reach the references. The police do not always try hard to contact the references. Sometimes they may have an wrong phone number or  an outdated address.

The police will also wait for the result of the fingerprinting before rendering a decision. The fingerprint report will show any arrests or convictions. Arrests for indictable offenses (felonies) will result in an automatic denial under New Jersey law. Disorderly persons offense (misdemeanors) that involved acts of domestic violence will also result in an automatic denial pursuant to statute. The police have wide discretion regarding arrests not resulting in conviction. They also have discretion regarding minor convictions not involving domestic violence.

The police will also receive a report from the county adjuster’s office with respect to their findings regarding any mental health commitments. If a person has been committed to a mental health institution, whether voluntary or involuntary, and does not have information from a medical professional stating that they are not currently suffering from any mental defect or disease that would handicap their ability to handle a firearm their application will likely be denied.

Finally, the police check the applicant’s employment information. They typically just confirm the dates of employment and current position that the applicant listed on the STS-033 form however this may vary from department to department.

Once the police have all of the information above, they can make a decision. The law states that the police have 30 days to make a decision unless good cause for denial exists. Case law has held that the police do not have to issue a decision if they are awaiting reports such as an FBI report or mental health report. The typical time frame from application to decision tends to be more like 90 to 120 days lately.

If the police grant the permit the individual can generally pick up their ID card immediately. If the application is denied there is an appeal process by which an individual can seek review of the denial in the county Superior Court. The most common reasons for denial are (1) falsification of the application and (2) that the issuance of the New Jersey gun permit would not be in the public health, safety, or welfare.

If you need help with an NJ gun permit application, contact the Law Office of Matthew B. Lun, Esq. today.