N.J.S. 2C:39-5c makes possession of any rifle or shotgun a third degree crime unless the possessor has a firearms purchaser identification card (“FPID”). 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.
Before looking at what N.J.S. 2C:58-3c says, some strong words of caution are in order: The application form for an FPID is at http://www.njsp.org/info/pdf/firearms/sts-033.pdf. If you are aware of any conceiveable 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.
So what does N.J.S. 2C:58-3c say?
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. Section d then goes on to state:
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. The rights that New Jersey gun owners have flow from federal law. New Jersey does its best to interpret that federal law in the most restrictive manner possible.
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 FPID 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 typically 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 will refuse to grant relief. Adler v. Livak tells us 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.
There's more. N.J.S. 2C:58-3f specifies that the firearms purchaser 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 utter defiance of statute, New Jersey State Police adds its own circumstances in which it declares the FPID card void. Section 13:54-1.11 of the New Jersey Administrative Code lists these circumstances:
- The firearms purchaser identification card has been lost;
- The firearms purchaser identification card has been stolen;
- The firearms purchaser identification card has become mutilated;
- The holder of a firearms purchaser identification card has changed his/her address.
Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ believe that under N.J.S. 2C:58-3f, New Jersey State Police was precluded from adopting Section 13:54-1.11 of the New Jersey Administrative Code. One court decision upheld denial of an FPIC application following an applicant's change of address, citing 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 is IMO Boyadjian, 362 N.J. Super. 463 (App. Div., 2003), certif. den. 178 N.J. 250 (2003.)
Strong believers in the rule of law, especially as it relates to gun rights, 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.
Allan Marain |
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