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Want to Buy a Firearm in New Jersey? Be Prepared to Wait.


New Jersey has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country.  If you want to purchase a gun there, there are many—many—steps you must go through, and the process can take a long time.

Photo courtesy www.wikihow.com

According to a statement by State Police Capt. Stephen Jones, “The things you have to go through here are probably a lot more extreme — or a lot more thorough, I’ll put it that way — than in any other state.”

To buy any firearm in New Jersey, you must first complete an Application for Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (Form STS-33) as well as the attached Handgun Purchasing Permit at your local police department or registered firearms dealer. You must also provide contact information for two character witnesses who can attest to your mental health. You must also complete a Consent for Mental Health Records Search application from the local police department. All this information, along with your driver’s license and Social Security card, is then taken to the police department, which will conduct a thorough background check, including a review of the mental health records and personal references provided.

If you successfully pass these checks and requirements, you will be issued a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. This process can take up to 30 days or longer, depending upon how busy the local department is at the time and how persistent you are. State law requires the department to respond within 30 days, but that is often ignored and they may take several months to respond. So stay on top of your application.

The card enables you to buy a rifle, shotgun or pellet gun, assuming you also pass a National Instant Criminal Background Check mandated by the Brady Law at the time of purchase.

But all of that still does not permit you to purchase a handgun.

To buy a handgun, the process is a separate but similar. You must submit Form STS-33 along with the Handgun Purchasing Permit. (Some of the newer state forms includes this as part of the STS-33).  If you are issued a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card to purchase a handgun, you will be limited to a single purchase within a 90-day period. Each subsequent purchase requires you to go through the entire process each time.

Capt. Young explained, “Handguns are much more often used in the commission of a crime than a long gun, a rifle or a shotgun, because of the nature of concealment. A handgun is easier to hide, so it’s harder to get one.”

But being approved to buy a handgun does not mean you can carry it around with you. You must then obtain a separate permit to carry the firearm. And that is a completely different process, with additional layers of checks. To start, you will need to complete an Application for a Permit to Carry a Handgun (Form SP-642).

You must also provide a written letter that demonstrates a “justifiable need” to carry—such as evidence of “serious threats”—in order to obtain a concealed carry permit. You will also need to provide three character witnesses who can testify as to your “sound moral character.” Then you must be able to demonstrate a “thorough familiarity” with the safe handling and use of handguns, as evidenced by completion of a firearms training course, submission of handgun qualification scores, or passage of test on New Jersey’s use of force laws.

And don’t even think of carrying a handgun in New Jersey with a permit issued by another state. New Jersey does not have laws which allow individuals with valid permits to carry a handgun from anyother states to carry a handgun in New Jersey.

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