See our Background Check Procedures policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
New Jersey is characterized as a full point-of-contact state for NICS. The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) serves as state points of contact for implementation of the Brady Act.1
In addition to the background check requirement at the point of sale, all firearm purchasers must have either: 1) a permit to purchase a handgun, allowing the purchase of one handgun per permit;2 or 2) a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC), allowing unlimited rifle and shotgun purchases.3
Applications to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun or FPIC must be processed through NJSP or local law enforcement, which in turn use NICS and other state and local records to verify that prospective purchasers are not prohibited from possessing a firearm prior to the issuance of a permit to purchase or FPIC. For more detail on the permit to purchase and FPIC requirements, see the New Jersey Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers section.
- N.J. Admin. Code §§ 13:54-3.12, 13:54-3.13(a)(6). Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Sept. 5, 2011).
- N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9(a).
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3a, 3b, 3f; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9(b).