New Jersey pending carry permit applications and the path forward

New Jersey pending carry permit applications and the path forward
Seth Perlman

There’s been no shortage of the news coming out of New Jersey and the enactment of the most egregious and unconstitutional law effecting carry in the country. Cam reported on both the signing of the “Carry Killer” law on his show, as well as covered lawsuits that have already been filed. The second the bill was signed into law the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs filed Case 1:22-cv-07463 and the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners, and New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society filed Case 1:22-cv-07464. One case number off from another. Bravo! These guys were all on it! With the passage of this law there are a lot of changes to not just carry, but also the application process that go into effect immediately. Where does this leave those that have already applied under the old law? There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Through the old permit to carry permitting system, the process was convoluted, but many of us went through it and many are still in the process. I covered the system applicants navigated back in August after confirming some permits getting issued. The short list of the process would go like this:

  1. Applicant gathers everything needed to apply. Application needed to be printed duplexed, in triplicate, with live signatures from references, with all applications notarized. Applicant would need to have proof of training/qualification with a handgun. All other information needed, with the packet, applicant would bring to their local Police Department, or if unincorporated, local State Police Barracks (issuing authority).
  2. Applicant gets instructions from issuing authority on what information to bring to company completing fingerprints, and then makes an appointment to get their fingerprints done.
  3. Applicant waits….

What would happen is the issuing authority would give the paperwork their seal of approval if everything checked out with both the paperwork and criminal background check. From there, the paperwork would get sent off to the County Court. At the Court, the prosecutor’s office would get a crack at the application and then pass it along to the judge with their recommendation. Then, when the judge felt like it, they issued or denied the permit. The judge could also call applicants in to court concerning the issuance or denial.

Under the new law, after the courts begged the authors of the bill to be removed from the process, they were. We all have to be honest here, this law came straight from Murphy’s office and was given to the Assemblyman who claimed he authored it, Joe Danielson. There’s no way Danielson wrote this bill in my opinion. I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the courts anymore, unless there’s an appeal. There are sill thousands of applicants stuck in a permitting purgatory and they have some light at the end of the tunnel.

While the New Jersey permit to carry is basically useless today, that does not change the fact that people are still waiting on them. There is some benefit to having a permit to carry when it comes to getting around some of the transportation laws. For example, if you wanted to bring your pistol over to your fiend’s house for show and tell or to have them help you work on it, that would be illegal without a permit to carry. Under the new law, if you have your permit, you can actually still bring that firearm to your friend’s house as long as they give you permission. This is not legal advice, but hey, there’s this “feature” that will enhance gun owner’s lives in the state. A few other outlier perks, otherwise, the permits have been neutered.

Many counties have been slow rolling the issuance of permits, Ocean County and Monmouth County have both been really bad the last few months. The MEMO must had gotten out about the forthcoming law change and NJ’s three branches of government conspired against the people on issuing permits, but I digress. An Administrative Directive (#14-22) from the Administrative Director Glenn A. Grant was issued the day of the bill signing with strict instructions to the courts on how to handle these permits that are mid process.

Pursuant to the new law, which, as noted, is effective immediately, determinations on applications for permits to carry a handgun will no longer be made by the court; law enforcement alone will receive, investigate, and determine all permit to carry applications.

Any applications for a permit to carry a handgun currently pending before the Superior Court as of today are to be decided and, if approved, issued by the court. The new law allows judges to rely on the prior approval by law enforcement as the basis for approving these pending applications. L. 2022, c. __. Judges must strive to act on those pending applications within 60 days and should not exceed that 60-day timeframe without good cause.

Any applications pending with law enforcement are to be decided by the appropriate chief police officer or superintendent. Effective today, any permit to carry application presented to the court will be returned to the law enforcement entity from which it was received.

The Superior Court will continue to hear appeals from law enforcement denials of applications for firearms purchaser identification cards, permits to purchase a handgun, and permits to carry a handgun. The new law provides that no formal pleading or filing fee is required for these appeals. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(d)(f); N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4(e); N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(l)(5).

This is not bad news. It’s not great but it’s not bad. There are people that have been waiting since August, maybe earlier, for their permits to be issued to them. Many of which have had their paperwork sitting at the courts for months. Worst case scenario, 60 days. Well, 60 days if the judge does not have “good cause” to not issue the permit. While that’s another 60 days of infringement on a right, at least there is now a directive.

Looking over the rest of the directive, there is a fun little section that points to extra rights that retired police officers (RPO) have. For whatever reason, New Jersey really likes to stick it to Joe Blow, and continues to place RPOs on a pedestal.

N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4(e) anticipates that the Superior Court will hold a hearing on an
appeal from law enforcement’s denial of an identification card, a purchase permit, or a carry permit within 60 days of the applicant’s written request for such a hearing. The hearing on an appeal from the denial of a carry permit for a retired law enforcement officer must be held within 30 days of request pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(l)(5)

I get the anger and frustration that my fellow Garden Staters are going through. This has been a rough road to begin with, and now the insult to injury is those few that have been issued their permits, only had at best five or so months of liberty. I’m confident that we will be victorious, I just hope that such victories come rather swiftly. We shall see. One thing I can guarantee you is that the pages of Bearing Arms will continue to be lit up with news from New Jersey.