New Jersey generally prohibits the knowing possession of a handgun in any place other than one’s own property or place of business without a permit to carry a handgun.1
New Jersey requires any person seeking to carry a handgun to apply for a permit through the NJSP or local law enforcement.2 Among other requirements, the application must be endorsed by “not less than four reputable persons” who are not related by blood or by law to the applicant and have known them for at least three years and who have not engaged in any acts or made any statements that suggest the applicant is likely to engage in conduct, other than lawful self-defense, that would pose a danger to the applicant or others. The reputable persons also shall provide relevant information supporting the certification, including the nature and extent of their relationship with the applicant and information concerning their knowledge of the applicant’s use of drugs or alcohol.3 Moreover, no application shall be approved unless the applicant demonstrates that they:4
- Are not subject to any of the disabilities set forth under state law to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun or a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card;5 and
- Are thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns.
New Jersey previously required a person to establish a “justifiable need” for carrying a handgun before obtaining a permit.6 However, in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the Supreme Court struck down New York’s comparable “proper cause” requirement and called out this provision of New Jersey law as problematic.7
The licensing official must interview the applicant and the persons endorsing the application and inquire and investigate to the extent warranted, whether the applicant is likely to engage in conduct that would result in harm to the applicant or others, including, but not limited to whether the applicant:
- Has any history of threats or acts of violence by the applicant directed toward self or others;
- Any history of use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force by the applicant against another person, or other incidents implicating the disqualifying criteria, including but not limited to determining whether the applicant has been subject to any recent arrests or criminal charges for disqualifying crimes or has been experiencing any mental health issues such as suicidal ideation or violent impulses, and the applicant’s use of drugs or alcohol.8
The chief police officer or the superintendent may require such other information from the applicant or any other person, including but not limited to publicly available statements posted or published online by the applicant, as the chief police officer or superintendent deems reasonably necessary to conduct the review of the application.
Following approval by the NJSP or local law enforcement, the applicant must present his or her application to the superior court in the county in which the applicant resides.9 The superior court must be equally satisfied the applicant meets the requirements to carry a handgun before it will issue a permit.10
Firearm Safety Training
New Jersey requires that applicants for a permit to carry a handgun demonstrate a “thorough familiarity” with the safe handling and use of handguns, as evidenced by:11
- Completion of a firearms training course substantially equivalent to the firearms training approved by the Police Training Commission;12
- Submission of the applicant’s most recent handgun qualification scores utilizing the handgun(s) he or she intends to carry as evidenced by test firings, administered by a certified firearms instructor of a police academy, a certified firearms instructor of the National Rifle Association, or any other recognized certified firearms instructor; or
- Passage of any test of New Jersey’s laws governing the use of force, administered by a certified instructor of a police academy, a certified instructor of the National Rifle Association, or any other recognized certified instructor.
Beginning in 2023, applicants for a permit to carry a handgun must also complete training in the lawful and safe handling and storage of firearms, which shall consist of an online course of instruction, in-person classroom instruction, and target training administered by a certified firearm instructor on an approved firing range. The training must include, but not be limited to, demonstration of a level of proficiency in the use of a handgun as required by the Superintendent and training, developed or approved in conjunction with the Police Training Commission, on justification in the use of deadly force under State law.13
Also beginning in 2023, every private citizen who carries a handgun in public must maintain a minimum of $300,000 in liability insurance coverage for harm resulting from their firearm carry.14
Duration & Renewal
In New Jersey, permits to carry handguns expire two years from the date of issuance.15 Permits may be renewed for two-year periods in the same manner, and subject to the same conditions, as original applications.16
Disclosure or Use of Information
New Jersey does not allow personal application or permit information regarding concealed weapons permit holders to be made public. Any background investigation of an applicant for a permit to carry a handgun is not a public record and shall not be disclosed to any person not authorized to have access to such information.17 Any application materials, document reflecting the issuance or denial of a permit, or permit maintained by any state or municipal governmental agency is not a public record and shall not be disclosed to any person not authorized by law to have access to the documentation, except for persons acting in their governmental capacities for purposes of the administration of justice.18
Non-residents of New Jersey who wish to carry a handgun in the state must obtain a permit to carry a handgun from NJSP under the same process as New Jersey residents.19
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- N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:39-5(b), 2C:39-6(e).
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4.
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4(b).
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4(c). Applicants must also submit fingerprints to facilitate the background check. Id.
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3(c). See the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally in New Jersey.
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-2.4(d)(1).
- N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111, 2124 (2022).
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4(c).
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4(d).
- N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-2.4(b).
- See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-6(j).
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4(g).
- 2022 AB 4769.
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4(a).
- N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.15.
- Id. For information limiting access to and use of criminal history record information that is utilized for purposes other than criminal justice, see N.J. Admin. Code § 13:59-1.6.
- See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-4.