On February 1, 2020, revisions to New Jersey’s personalized handgun law will go into effect. The previous version of the law, adopted in 2002, required personalized handgun technology to be incorporated into all handguns sold in the state within a two to three-year period after a technology meeting state standards was approved for retail sale by the state Attorney General. Although this law was in effect from 2003 to 2019, it was never ultimately implemented because no commercially available handgun was determined to meet the definition of a qualifying personalized handgun technology under state law.
In 2019, New Jersey’s legislature adopted a bill (2018 NJ SB 101 (signed by the governor on July 16, 2019)) repealing the 2002 requirement that personalized handgun technology be incorporated into all handguns once the technology is approved. Instead, under SB 101, licensed firearm retail dealers in New Jersey will be required to make available for purchase at least one personalized handgun within 60 days of the first personalized handgun being included on a roster of approved personalized handguns that comply with state standards.1
SB 101 also amends the state’s definition of a personalized handgun. As of February 1, 2020, New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:39-1dd will define a “personalized handgun” as:
“[A] handgun which incorporates within its design a permanent programmable feature as part of its manufacture that cannot be deactivated and renders the personalized handgun reasonably resistant to being fired except when activated by the lawful owner or other authorized user. No make or model of a handgun shall be deemed to be a ”personalized handgun” unless the Personalized Handgun Authorization Commission established pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2019, c.164 (C.2C:58-2.7) has determined in accordance with section 2 of P.L.2019, c.164 (C.2C:58-2.8), that the personalized handgun meets the performance standards and qualifying criteria established pursuant to section 2of P.L.2019, c.164 (C.2C:58-2.8).”
SB 101 establishes a new commission, the State Personalized Handgun Authorization Commission referenced in the definition above, responsible for establishing performance standards for personalized handguns and maintaining a roster of personalized handguns authorized for sale to the public.2 This commission will develop handgun performance standards and other qualifying criteria for inclusion on the roster, including but not limited to the following:
- the handgun shall be reasonably resistant to being fired by anyone other than the handgun’s authorized user;
- the personalized technology shall be incorporated into the design of the personalized handgun and shall be a permanent, irremovable part of the handgun and any device or object necessary for the authorized user to fire the handgun;
- the personalized handgun shall not be manufactured so as to permit the personalized characteristics of the handgun to be readily deactivated; and
- the personalized handgun shall meet any other reliability standards generally used in the industry for other commercially available handguns.3
In addition, SB 101 provides a process by which manufacturers seeking to include a handgun on the approved personalized handgun roster may apply to the commission for a determination of whether the handgun meets the commission’s personalized handgun performance standards. This determination shall be based on testing by an independent laboratory that is accredited or certified for the testing of firearms or by the division of state police.4
Further, SB 101 requires the Personalized Handgun Authorization Commission to maintain a roster of all personalized handguns approved by the commission as meeting the personalized handgun performance standards and qualifying criteria. The roster of approved personalized handguns shall be published on a website maintained by the New Jersey State Police and shall be updated as necessary. A copy of the roster shall be made available every six months to registered and licensed firearms dealers in this State.5
Within 60 days of the first personalized handgun being included on the roster, New Jersey licensed firearm retail dealers must:
- make available for purchase at least one personalized handgun approved by the commission and listed on the roster as eligible for sale;6
- post in one or more locations in the dealer’s place or places of business in a conspicuous manner that makes them easily visible and accessible to customers: copies of the personalized handgun roster; and a sign that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the features of personalized handguns that are not offered by traditional handguns and advising customers that such firearms may be purchased through the licensed retail dealer; and
- accept and process orders to enable customers to purchase through the licensed retail dealer any of the personalized handguns included on the roster.7
In the event that a licensed retail dealer’s inventory of personalized handguns is depleted and there are no personalized handguns available for purchase on the premises, the licensed retail dealer shall:
- place an order for at least one personalized handgun within 21 days of the sale of the last personalized handgun;
- maintain written records of the retail dealer’s efforts to place an order and maintain those records on the premises and allow them to be open for inspection at all times; and
- post a sign on the premises indicating that personalized handguns are routinely sold on the retail dealer’s premises and will soon be available for purchase.8
The personalized handgun inventory and records of all licensed firearms retailers are subject to inspection by officers designated by the Superintendent of State Police. Such inspections “shall be conducted at least once every two years at any time during the normal business hours of the firearm retailer’s business.”9
Licensed retail dealers who violate the personalized handgun requirement are subject to the following penalties:
- for a first offense, a fine of up to $500;
- for a second offense, a fine of up to $1,000;
- for a third or subsequent offense, a six-month license suspension following notice to the licensed retail dealer and opportunity to be heard.10
The adopted text of New Jersey SB 101 (2018) can be found in its entirety at the New Jersey State Legislature’s website.
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- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.10.
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.7.
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.8(2)(c).
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.9.
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.8(2)(b).
- Personalized handguns offered for sale by licensed retail dealers must be “displayed in a conspicuous manner that makes it easily visible to customers and distinguishable from other traditional handguns.” 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.10(4)(b).
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.10(4)(a).
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.10(4)(c).
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.10(4)(e).
- 2018 NJ SB 101, creating New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-2.11(5)(a).