An FID Card Is Generally Needed

With certain exceptions, N.J.S. 2C:39-5c makes possession of any rifle or shotgun a third degree crime unless the possessor has a firearms identification card (“FID”). And N.J.S. 2C:39-5b makes possession of a handgun without the firearms purchaser identification card a second degree crime. A different New Jersey statute specifies who may obtain this firearms purchaser identification card. That statute is N.J.S. 2C:58-3c.

Preliminary Warning before Applying

Before looking at what N.J.S. 2C:58-3c says, some strong words of caution are in order: The application form for an FID is at The form requires that you provide the names and addresses of character references. The reviewing agency will send to the persons that you list a form that those persons will be required to complete and return. Talk to your character references before naming them on the form. Do not just assume they are on board. Make sure they are comfortable with your using them as references!

If you are aware of any conceivable reason your application for your firearms purchaser identification card may be questioned or denied, review that application with a New Jersey gun lawyer. Do this before submitting your application. It is always easier (and less costly) to prevent a denial in the first place than it is to appeal the denial afterwards.

Provisions of Statute Governing the FID

So what does N.J.S. 2C:58-3c say?

N.J.S. 2C:58-3c. Who may obtain. No person of good character and good repute in the community in which he lives, and who is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in this section or other sections of this chapter, shall be denied a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, except as hereinafter set forth. No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued:

(1) To any person who has been convicted of any crime, or a disorderly persons offense involving an act of domestic violence as defined in section 3 of P.L.1991, c. 261 (C.2C:25-19), whether or not armed with or possessing a weapon at the time of such offense;

(2) To any drug dependent person as defined in section 2 of P.L.1970, c. 226 (C.24:21-2), to any person who is confined for a mental disorder to a hospital, mental institution or sanitarium, or to any person who is presently an habitual drunkard;

(3) To any person who suffers from a physical defect or disease which would make it unsafe for him to handle firearms, to any person who has ever been confined for a mental disorder, or to any alcoholic unless any of the foregoing persons produces a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey, or other satisfactory proof, that he is no longer suffering from that particular disability in such a manner that would interfere with or handicap him in the handling of firearms; to any person who knowingly falsifies any information on the application form for a handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card;

(4) To any person under the age of 18 years for a firearms purchaser identification card and to any person under the age of 21 years for a permit to purchase a handgun;

(5) To any person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare;

(6) To any person who is subject to a restraining order issued pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c. 261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) prohibiting the person from possessing any firearm;

(7) To any person who as a juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime and the offense involved the unlawful use or possession of a weapon, explosive or destructive device or is enumerated in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c. 117 (C.2C:43-7.2);

(8) To any person whose firearm is seized pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c. 261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) and whose firearm has not been returned; or

(9) To any person named on the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist maintained by Terrorist Screening Center administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FID Application Process

N.J.S. 2C:39-5d specifies that applications for a handgun or firearms purchaser identification card are made to the chief of police where the applicant lives, or the Superintendent of State Police. The chief, or the Superintendent, is required to issue the card to any person qualified under subsection c. In determining whether the applicant is qualified, the chief (or Superintendent) follows procedures issued by New Jersey State Police.

N.J.S. 2C:39-5d then goes on to state:

Any person aggrieved by the denial of a permit or identification card may request a hearing in the Superior Court of the county in which he resides if he is a resident of New Jersey or in the Superior Court of the county in which his application was filed if he is a nonresident. The request for a hearing shall be made in writing within 30 days of the denial of the application for a permit or identification card. The applicant shall serve a copy of his request for a hearing upon the chief of police of the municipality in which he resides, if he is a resident of New Jersey, and upon the superintendent in all cases. The hearing shall be held and a record made thereof within 30 days of the receipt of the application for such hearing by the judge of the Superior Court. No formal pleading and no filing fee shall be required as a preliminary to such hearing. Appeals from the results of such hearing shall be in accordance with law.

Practical Considerations

So how does all this work in the real world? The answer is, “It works poorly. Very poorly.” Understand that New Jersey has a very anti-firearms Legislature, and a very anti-firearms judiciary. One early clue to what applicants must deal with comes from the very top of New Jersey State Police web page that discusses FID applications as viewed on June 25, 2020. That page announced at its very top, “Due to the large volume of submitted firearms applications, delays will be experienced. Please contact your local police department with any questions.” New Jersey State Police has, since then, removed that announcement. Its philosophy, however, remains unchanged.

The rights that New Jersey gun owners have flow from federal law. New Jersey does everything it can to interpret that federal law in the most restrictive manner possible. And on top of this oppressive interpretation of federal law, New Jersey resists adherence to even its own laws. For example, N.J.S. 2C:58-3f requires the chief of police to act on the FID application for New Jersey residents within thirty days. (For non-New Jersey residents, the processing time is extended to forty-five days.) The thirty (or forty-five) days often pass with the application being neither granted nor denied. When an applicant is sufficiently frustrated by the delay, he or she can ask the court to enforce the statute. The courts are little or no help. Adler v. Livak holds that if a required background check is not completed within the thirty (or forty-five) day period specified under N.J.S. 2C:58-3f, more time must be allowed. Never mind that background checks from the FBI are routinely completed within minutes.

When a denial does occur, N.J.S. 2C:58-3d specifies that the applicant can request a hearing in Superior Court. And the statute specifies that no filing fee or formal pleading is needed. Regardless, many counties require a fifty dollar fee to file the appeal. As indicated above, the hearing is to be held within thirty days. Again, the thirty days typically comes and goes with no hearing being held. In re Dubov stands for the proposition that the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, will do nothing to enforce the N.J.S. 2C:58-3d time requirement. Unless disappointed applicants have much discretionary funds at their disposal for two and possibly three levels of appeal, their only recourse (such as it is) is to cool their heels and wait.

New Jersey State Police Spit upon the Second Amendment

There's more. N.J.S. 2C:58-3f specifies that the firearms identification card, once issued, remains valid “until such time as the holder becomes subject to any of the disabilities set forth in subsection c of this section.” Yet, by regulations adopted by an agency run wild, and in total disregard of statute, New Jersey State Police adds its own circumstances in which it declares the FID card void. N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.7(a) specifies in part: “A State of New Jersey firearms purchaser identification card shall not be valid for more than 30 days after the information contained therein is no longer reflective of the issued person, that is, current address, name change, and/or sex change.” Section 13:54-1.11 of the New Jersey Administrative Code lists additional circumstances:
  • The firearms identification card has been lost;
  • The firearms identification card has been stolen;
  • The firearms identification card has become mutilated;
  • The holder of a firearms identification card has changed his/her address.
In all four situations listed above, in order to purchase additional firearms, N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.11 requires the holder to apply for a new FID card. But a court case called IMO Boyadjian, 362 N.J. Super. 463 (App. Div., 2003), certif. den. 178 N.J. 250 (2003) then says that the local police department can deny the new application even if no disqualifying events have happened since the initial approval. Another regulation, N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.15k, says that if for any reason, the ensuing investigation causes the application to be denied, the investigating agency is not allowed to disclose to the applicant the results of the investigation that caused the denial! (Can you spell “Kafka”, boys and girls?)

Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ believe that N.J.S. 2C:58-3f precluded New Jersey State Police from adopting Section 13:54-1.11 of the New Jersey Administrative Code. There is a court decision that upheld denial of an application for a new FID card following an applicant's change of address. That decision cited N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.11. A close reading of that decision, however, suggests that the applicant never challenged the validity of the regulation. Rather, the applicant challenged only the authority of the police chief in his new town to reach a decision different from that of the chief in the original town. Also of note is that that decision was rendered by an intermediate appellate court. The Supreme Court of New Jersey denied discretionary review. Were this issue to ever reach the Supreme Court, the outcome might well be different. The case in question was IMO Boyadjian, discussed above.

A Call to Arms

Gun lawyers in New Jersey FID and FPID cards Strong believers in the rule of law, especially as it relates to the Second Amendment, can fight abuses such as these. Fights of that nature are exciting. Unfortunately, they are also expensive. Nonetheless, Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ stand ready to help preserve your Second Amendment rights.

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