Delays still plaguing NJ concealed carry applicants

Seth Perlman

As my colleague and Bearing Arms contributor John Petrolino can tell you first-hand, getting a concealed carry license in New Jersey is still an arduous and lengthy process, despite the state’s “may issue” law being tossed out by the Supreme Court last year. Petrolino and thousands of others have applied for their concealed carry permits in the wake of the SCOTUS decision, but many of them are experiencing lengthy delays in actually receiving their permission slip to bear arms.


It’s a problem that Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, says is happening in localities across the state, and there’s not just one factor at work.

“We have to get into the current world, because the consequences are people are prevented from exercising their particular rights, which is about defending your life with a firearm,” Bach said. “It’s a way to buy themselves more time and further restrict the rights of people.”

Bach has pointed to a swath of “dangerous” moves from state officials that could potentially be delaying permit approval — the judge shortage, not enough staffing dedicated to processing carry permits, confusion among different police departments on how to handle the backlog, and anti-gun messages from officials like Murphy.

After decades of residents not being able to obtain carry permits, the pent-up demand was expected and should have been planned for, Bach said. He believes New Jersey lawmakers should be putting more pressure on towns that have been slow to process applications and pushing for a new, modernized system so people can apply for permits online.

“It’s not a universal problem. If a town is intent on meeting its obligation, they could do it if they really wanted to and they hire more people. Many jurisdictions, they don’t take it seriously, and they really need to,” Bach said.


According to one state official, more than 11,000 people applied for a concealed carry license between July and December 22nd, when Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Bruen response bill that is the now the subject of several lawsuits filed in federal court. About 800 applicants are still waiting to receive their permits, and the number of folks who’ve applied since then but are still twiddling their thumbs is undoubtably much larger. Of course, for anti-gun activists and politicians in the state, the needless delays in allowing individuals access to one of their most fundamental rights is a good thing.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex), who spoke in favor of gun restrictions during a November voting session in the Legislature, said she understands that people want a gun for hunting or for self-protection — but she doesn’t see why people want to walk around with concealed lethal weapons.

“The fact that there’s a backlog is news to me, but it’s also upsetting to think that many people want them,” she said in a recent interview. “I’m frustrated. I’m having a hard time seeing how broadening it, or making it easier for people to have guns when we have such high rates of murder and violence — that troubles me.”

Jasey said she doesn’t like to hear of backlogs in any state agency, but wonders why gun owners are in such a rush.

“I don’t want to see more guns in this state. We’re a small state and densely populated, and so far, we have a better record than most states in terms of gun deaths,” she said. “And yes, I think there’s a correlation there.”


Why are gun owners in such a rush? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the state has refused to recognize their right to keep and bear arms for decades now, instead treating it as a privilege to be doled out to a select few hand-picked by local judges and police chiefs. Maybe they want to protect themselves from violent criminals who don’t give a damn about any of the state’s gun control efforts that are aimed at responsible citizens. Honestly though, it doesn’t really matter. Regardless of whether Jasey believes these gun owners have a good reason to bear arms in self-defense, the gun owners themselves no longer have to justify their desire to exercise their Second Amendment rights, to her or anyone else.

Now it’s up to the state to justify these delays, and the excuses that have been offered won’t satisfy the courts forever. The state can’t require gun owners to go through all of these extraordinary steps in order to exercise their right to bear arms while failing to meet their own obligations under the law. If local police departments are the new issuing authority then they need to have the necessary staff to process applications in a timely manner. Otherwise, a “shall issue’ system turns into a “we’ll issue your permit when we get around to it” regime. So far most of the legal challenges to New Jersey’s post-Bruen carry laws have centered around the large number of “sensitive places” where firearms are banned, as well as the state legislature’s hiking of fees to apply for a carry license, but if these delays persist without any sign of improvement individual gun owners and 2A groups may have no choice to but to sue the most recalcitrant localities to force them into compliance.



Join the conversation as a VIP Member