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NJ Firearms and Weapons Laws

We have gathered the following New Jersey firearms laws and statutes for you.  Firearms laws are very strict in New Jersey.  There are specific statutes governing the registration, possession and use of firearms and other weapons, both legal and illegal, as well as statutes that govern the transportation of them.  The statutes provided below are meant only to serve as general information.  If you have been charged under one of the following statutes, please contact Villani & DeLuca, P.C. at (732) 709-7757 for a free consultation.

Firearms and Weapons Laws in NJ:

  • 2C:39-1.  Firearm definitions. – This statute defines the terms which are commonly used in the descriptions of New Jersey's firearms and weapons laws.
  • 2C:39-2.  Presumption of firearm possession and no license. – When a firearm or weapon is found in a vehicle, it will be presumed to belong either to the sole occupant of the vehicle, or to the vehicle's owner(s).  It will also be presumed that the person is in possession of the firearm or weapon without a license, until he or she provides evidence to the contrary.
  • 2C:39-3.  Prohibited weapons and devices. – New Jersey law prohibits the ownership or possession of certain weapons and devices, such as sawed-off shotguns, switchblade knives and armor penetrating bullets.  This statute does not apply to members of the armed forces and law enforcement officials who have been legally authorized to carry such weapons.
  • 2C:39-4.  Possession of weapons for unlawful purposes. – Possessing a firearm with the intent to use it illegally against another person or property is a second degree crime.  Those who are in possession of an imitation firearm for unlawful purposes are guilty of a fourth degree crime.
  • 2C:39-4.1.  Possession of a weapon while committing another offense. – A person will be found guilty of a second degree crime for possessing a weapon or firearm while committing, attempting to commit, or conspiring to commit another offense, such as a violation of the state's controlled dangerous substances laws.
  • 2C:39-5.  Unlawful possession of weapons. – Anyone in possession of a firearm or weapon without being licensed to do so will be found guilty of a fourth, third or second degree crime, depending on the type of weapon.  Furthermore, possession of an imitation firearm on the grounds of an educational institution or on a school bus without proper authorization is a fourth degree crime, even with a valid carrying permit.
  • 2C:39-6.  Weapons exemptions. – New Jersey Statute 2C:39-5 for unlawful weapons possession does not apply to authorized individuals such as members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers, jail wardens and airport security officers.
  • 2C:39-7.  Persons restricted from possessing weapons. – A person who has been convicted of a serious crime such as homicide, kidnapping, aggravated assault or sexual assault will be banned from owning a firearm or weapon.  This statute also allows the courts to ban the ownership of firearms by individuals convicted of domestic violence, pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991.
  • 2C:39-9.  Manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances. – The manufacturing, transporting, shipping or selling of weapons, dangerous instruments and appliances is considered a third degree crime.  Some examples of weapons covered by this statute are machine guns, silencers, defaced firearms and large capacity ammunition magazines.
  • 2C:39-9.1.  Sale of knives to minors. – It is a fourth degree crime to sell to anyone under the age of 18 a hunting, fishing, combat or survival knife with a blade length of 5 or more inches, and an overall length of 10 or more inches.  The defendant will bear the burden of proving that the buyer misrepresented his or her age with false identification, and that the average person would have believed the defendant to be 18 years of age or older.
  • 2C:39-9.2.  Sale of handcuffs to minors. – Selling handcuffs to an individual under the age of 18 is a disorderly persons offense.  Handcuffs are defined as a device that can be tightened and locked around the wrists for the purpose of restraining a person's movements.
  • 2C:39-10.  Violation of the regulatory provisions relating to firearms. – Anyone who knowingly violates the regulatory provisions relating to firearms will be found guilty of a disorderly persons offense, or of a crime in the fourth or third degree.  The most serious offense is for selling or giving a firearm to a person under the age of 18, which is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of 3 years, during which the defendant will not be eligible for parole.
  • 2C:39-11.  Pawnbrokers. – A pawnbroker who loans or sells a firearm, destructive device or explosive, or who accepts such weapons as collateral for a loan, is guilty of a third degree crime.
  • 2C:39-12.  Voluntary surrender of a weapon. – The voluntary surrender of a firearm or weapon may be arranged by giving written notice to the State Superintendent or municipal chief of police.  A person will not be convicted of a firearms or weapons charge upon surrendering the weapon to the authorized law enforcement official.
  • 2C:39-13.  Unlawful use of body vests. – Wearing a body vest while committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing the scene of a crime such as murder, robbery, sexual assault or kidnapping is a criminal offense.  It is generally a third degree crime, unless the vest was worn during the commission of a first degree crime, in which case it is elevated to a second degree crime.
  • 2C:39-14.  Unlawful training in the use of a firearm. – It is a second degree crime to teach or demonstrate the use, application, or making of a firearm or any device capable of causing injury or death.  It is also a second degree crime to assemble with others for the purpose of training or receiving instruction in the use of firearms or devices, which are intended to be used for illegal activities.
  • 2C:39-15.  Gun advertising requirement. – It is a disorderly persons offense to post an advertisement for the sale of a machine gun, semi-automatic rifle, or assault firearm without specifying that the purchaser must hold the proper valid firearms license or firearms ID card.
  • 2C:39-16.  Leader of a firearms trafficking network. – A leader of a firearms trafficking network is defined as someone who organizes, supervises, finances or manages a scheme to unlawfully manufacture, transport, ship, sell, or dispose of any firearms.  A leader of a firearms trafficking network offense is a first degree crime, punishable by a fine of up to five times the value of the firearms involved, or $500,000, whichever is greater.
  • 2C:58-1.  Firearm registration. – All manufacturers and wholesalers of firearms must register with the New Jersey State Police in order to manufacture or sell firearms in the state of New Jersey.  All manufacturers and wholesalers of firearms are required to keep a detailed record of each firearm they sell, and make such records available to the police at all reasonable times.
  • 2C:58-2.  Sale of firearms. – A retail dealer of firearms and any employee of a retail dealer of firearms must obtain a license from the county in which the business operates.  The license will be granted by a Judge of the county Superior Court, and will allow the retailer to sell firearms within in a specific municipality.
  • 2C:58-2.2.  Legislative findings on the sale of firearms. – The New Jersey Legislature has taken numerous actions to enhance firearms safety, including the allocation of one million dollars for the development of personal handgun technology.  The Legislature has also passed numerous firearms safety laws, such as mandating the inclusion of a State Police approved trigger lock or secure containment unit with every handgun sale.
  • 2C:58-2.3.  Personalized handguns. – A personal handgun may be deemed available for sale if a manufacturer has delivered a production model to a licensed wholesale or retail dealer in New Jersey or any other state.  The decision for whether or not a personal handgun is available for retail sale will be made by the Attorney General, who may seek the expertise of any public or private entity in order to make this determination.
  • 2C:58-2.4.  List of personalized handguns. – Upon determining that a handgun is available for sale, the Attorney General will request an updated list of personal handguns that may be sold in New Jersey from the Superintendent of State Police.  The list will include specific identifying information for each gun, such as manufacturer, model and caliber.
  • 2C:58-2.5.  Sale of personalized handguns. – No retail dealer of firearms or any employee of a retail dealer of firearms may transport, sell, possess, or possess with intent to sell any handgun other than a personal or antique handgun.  This statute does not apply to the transport and sale of guns for official use by the police, members of the armed forces or for use by state sanctioned shooting competitions.
  • 2C:58-3.  Purchase of firearms. – No individual may purchase a handgun without first securing a permit or a purchaser identification card.  Handgun purchase permits or firearms purchaser identification cards will be automatically denied to certain individuals, such as those convicted of a criminal offense or domestic abuse, or those who are deemed to have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • 2C:58-3.1.  Temporary transfer of firearms. – A legally licensed dealer or individual may transfer a handgun, rifle or shotgun to an individual under the age of 18 if it is done on a firing range operated by a licensed dealer, law enforcement agency, state approved military organization, or a rifle or pistol club.  This transfer must not last beyond eight consecutive hours within a 24-hour period.
  • 2C:58-3.2.  Temporary transfer of firearm for training purposes. – An instructor in the use of firearms for a state government agency such as the Police Training Commission or the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife may temporarily transfer a firearm to another person for training purposes.  The transfer must be made in an area specifically designated for training purposes, and must only be handled under the direct supervision of the instructor.
  • 2C:58-3.3.  Handgun ammunition. – The sale or transfer of any handgun ammunition may only take place between licensed manufacturers, wholesalers, retail dealers and individuals in possession of a handgun permit or a valid firearms purchaser card.
  • 2C:58-3.4.  Exemption on restriction of purchase of handguns. – Exemptions from the handgun purchase restrictions stated in 2C:58-3 may be made for special circumstances, such as the purchasing of firearms from an individual who has acquired the guns as part of an inheritance.  An exemption must be granted by the Superintendent of State Police, who may deny the application if such an exemption is likely to be a threat to public safety.
  • 2C:58-4.  Handgun permits. – A handgun permit covers all handguns owned by the licensed individual, and is good for up to two years.  An application for a handgun permit or the renewal of a handgun permit must be approved by the Superintendent of State Police or the chief police officer in the municipality where the applicant resides.
  • 2C:58-4.1.  Employee of armored car company. – In addition to a handgun permit application, an employee of an armored car company must submit an employment verification letter from the company's CEO.
  • 2C:58-5.  Licenses to possess and carry machine guns and assault firearms. – A person must file an application with the county Superior Court in order to possess, purchase or carry a machine gun or assault rifle.  The license is good for a period of one year, and may be revoked at any time for the good of public safety, or if the licensee is found to be unqualified to hold the license.
  • 2C:58-6.1.  Possession of firearms by minors. –
  • 2C:58-7.  Persons possessing explosives or destructive devices to notify police. – Those who are not licensed to be in possession of explosives, destructive devices or ammunition must notify the municipal or state police if they come to be in possession of such devices.
  • 2C:58-8.  Injuries caused by firearms. – Physicians are required to report any injuries resulting from a firearm, weapon, explosive or destructive device to the municipal or state police.  However, this requirement is not applicable to injuries sustained by members of the armed forces or law enforcement officers while on duty.
  • 2C:58-9.  Certain convictions to be reported. – A non-citizen who is convicted of a firearms and weapons offense will be certified to an officer of the U.S. Government by the county prosecutor or the Attorney General.
  • 2C:58-10.  Incendiary or tracer ammunition. – Incendiary or tracer type ammunition may only be deployed by law enforcement officers or military personnel in the course of their official duties.  However, non-incendiary tracer ammunition may be used on skeet shooting ranges for target purposes.
  • 2C:58-12.  Registration of assault firearms. – All assault firearms, such as the Colt AR-15, must be registered with the state and only be used for target-shooting purposes.  In addition to possessing a valid handgun permit or firearms purchaser card, the applicant must also present proof of membership in a state licensed rifle or pistol club.
  • 2C:58-13.  Transfer of assault firearm to another. – If the owner of an assault firearm cannot or does not wish to register the firearm, he or she may transfer it to another licensed individual or entity, voluntarily surrender the firearm, or render the firearm inoperable by filing a certification with the Superintendent of State Police.
  • 2C:58-14.  Annual report on assault firearms. – The Attorney General will present an annual report to the Legislature, which includes information such as the types and quantities of firearms surrendered or rendered inoperable, and the types of firearms related criminal offenses that have occurred within the past year.
  • 2C:58-15.  Minor's access to a loaded firearm. – If a person has reasonable cause to know that a minor can access a loaded firearm on his or premises, that person must secure the firearm with a trigger lock, and store it in a secure lock box or container.  If a minor gains access to the firearm due to the owner's failure to take these precautions, the owner will be found guilty of a disorderly persons offense.
  • 2C:58-16.  Retail firearm warning required. – A retail dealer or employee of a retail dealer of firearms must deliver a written notice with each sale of a firearm which warns the purchaser that it is a criminal offense to leave a firearm within easy access of a minor.  A retail dealer or wholesaler of firearms must also conspicuously display this message on a written notice posted at each purchase counter.
  • 2C:58-17.  “KeepSafe” program established. – The Keep Safe program was established to encourage the safe storage of firearms by providing instant rebates for trigger locking devices that are purchased with a firearm.  An instant rebate of $5 will be deducted from the price of the trigger locking device at the time of purchase.
  • 2C:58-18.  Report on KeepSafe program. – The Superintendent of State Police will submit a report to the Governor and Legislature detailing the effectiveness of the Keep Safe Program.  The Superintendent will also recommend whether or not the program should be expanded to include trigger locking devices bought without the purchase of a firearm.
  • 2C:58-19.  Report of loss or theft of firearm within 36 hours. – An owner of a firearm must report the loss or theft of the firearm to the police within 36 hours of discovering the loss of theft.  Anyone found to be in violation of this statute will be fined no less than $500 for a first offense, and no less than $1000 for a subsequent offense.

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