New Jersey: State Firearms Laws

(as of December, 1994)

Please Note: In addition to state laws, the purchase, sale and (in certain circumstances) the possession and interstate transportation of firearms is regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended by the Firearm Owners' Protection Act. Also, cities and localities may have their own firearms ordinances in addition to federal and state laws. Details may be obtained by contacting local law enforcement authorities, and by consulting the State Laws and Published Ordinances--Firearms, available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.

Quick Reference Chart

                          Rifles and
                          Shotguns         Handguns
Permit to Purchase        ID Card Required   Yes 
Registration of Firearm   No                 No *
Licensing of Owner        Yes                Yes
Permit to Carry           ID Card Required   Yes

 * Police recordation of all transfers required.

State Constitutional Provision



It is unlawful to knowingly possess any handgun, including any antique handgun, without first having obtained a Permit to Carry. It is unlawful to knowingly possess any rifle or shotgun without having first obtained a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FID).

Exceptions: No Permit to Carry or FID is required:

  1. To keep or carry any firearm about a person's place of business, residence, premises, or other land owned or possessed by him; a place of business shall be deemed a fixed location.
  2. To carry any firearm ``unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and the course of travel shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances'' from any place of purchase to his residence or place of business, between one place of business or residence and another when moving, or between his dwelling or place of business and place where such firearms are repaired, for the purpose of repair.
  3. To transport such firearms as necessary for target practice, in the manner described in paragraph (2) above, by a member of a gun club organized in accordance with the rules prescribed by the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice in going to or from a place of target practice, provided the club has filed a copy of its charter with the Superintendent of State Police and annually submits a list of its members to the superintendent.
  4. To transport any firearm, in the manner described in paragraph (2) above, while traveling:
    1. Directly to or from any place for the purpose of hunting or fishing, provided such person has in his possession a valid hunting or fishing license; or
    2. Directly to or from any target range or other authorized place for the purpose of practice, match, target, trap or skeet shooting exhibitions: or
    3. Directly to or from any exhibition or display of firearms which is sponsored by any law enforcement agency, any gun club or gun collectors' club for the purpose of displaying the firearms to the public or to members of such organization or club, provided that not less than 30 days prior to such exhibition or display notice shall be given to the Superintendent of State Police by the sponsoring organization or club and the sponsor has complied with such reasonable safety regulations as the superintendent may promulgate.
  5. To carry a firearm in the woods or fields or upon the waters of this State for the purpose of hunting, target practice, or fishing, provided that the firearm is legal and appropriate for hunting or fishing purposes in this State and the person possesses a valid hunting license, or, with respect to fresh water fishing, a valid fishing license.
  6. To transport firearms by a licensed dealer in firearms and his registered employees during the course of normal business, provided the firearms are transported in the manner described in paragraph 2 above.
  7. For members of the armed forces or National Guard while on duty or traveling between places of duty and carrying authorized weapons.
  8. For federal law enforcement officers and any other federal officers and employees required to carry firearms in the performance of their official duties.
  9. For law enforcement officers, vehicle inspectors, prosecutors, and assistant prosecutors.
  10. For guards and persons with limited police or arrest powers while in the performance of their duties.
  11. For out-of-state law enforcement officers while actually engaged in official duties, provided that the Superintendent of State Police, or the police chief, or county prosecutor of the county where the out-of-state officer is engaged in official duties has been notified.
The FID requirement for rifles and shotguns does not apply to ``antique firearms, provided that such antique firearms are unloaded or are being fired for the purposes for exhibition or demonstration at an authorized target range or in such other manner as has been approved in writing by the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality in which the exhibition or demonstration is held.''

It is unlawful to knowingly possess any firearm* in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution, irrespective of whether the person possesses a valid permit to carry the firearm or a valid firearms purchaser identification card. This prohibition does not apply to persons listed in paragraphs (7) to (11) above.

No person under 18 shall possess, carry, fire, or use a firearm except under the following circumstances:

  1. In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, or some other person who holds a Permit to Carry or FID; or
  2. For the purpose of military drill under the auspices of a legally recognized military organization and under competent supervision: or
  3. For the purpose of competition or target practice on a firing range approved by the governing body of the municipality in which the range is located or the National Rifle Association and which is under competent supervision at the time of such supervision or target practice; or
  4. For the purpose of hunting during the regularly designated hunting season, provided he possesses a valid hunting license and has successfully completed a hunter's safety course.
No person may possess, control, own, or purchase any firearm if he has:
  1. Been convicted of aggravated assault, arson, burglary, escape, extortion, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, or any weapons offense.
  2. Ever been committed for a mental disorder to any hospital, mental institution, or sanitarium unless he possesses a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey or other satisfactory proof that he is no longer suffering from a mental disorder which interferes with or handicaps him in the handling of a firearm.
  3. Been convicted for the unlawful use, possession, or sale of a controlled dangerous substance.
  4. No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued to any person who is subject to a court order pursuant to New Jersey law prohibiting the person from possessing any firearm.
It is unlawful to knowingly have in one's possession ``any hollow nose or dum-dum bullet.'' Nothing in this prohibition shall be construed to prevent a person from keeping such ammunition at his dwelling, premises, or other land owned or possessed by him, or from carrying such ammunition from the place of purchase to said dwelling or land, or while engaged in activities covered by paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) above under the Exceptions to the Permit to Carry or FID requirement. Except for a federally licensed collector, it is unlawful to possess armor piercing ammunition.


Rifles and Shotguns

It is unlawful to sell, give, transfer, assign, or otherwise dispose of or receive, purchase, or otherwise acquire a rifle or shotgun, other than an antique rifle or shotgun, unless the purchaser assignee, donee, receiver, or holder is licensed as a dealer under New Jersey law or possesses a valid FID, and first exhibits the FID to the seller, donor, transferrer, or assignor, and the purchaser assignee, donee, receiver, or holder signs a written certification on a form prescribed by the Superintendent of State Police, which identifies the purchaser, his address and FID or dealer's number, and states he presently is not disqualified from purchase.

The certification shall be retained by the seller, or, in the case of a person who is not a dealer, it may be filed with the police chief of the municipality in which he resides or with the Superintendent of New Jersey State Police.

A person shall not be restricted to the number of rifles or shotguns he may purchase, provided he has a valid FID and the certification form requirements are met. The FID is required for private or dealer purchases.


It is unlawful to sell, give, transfer, assign, or otherwise dispose of, or receive, purchase, or otherwise acquire a handgun unless the purchaser, assignee, donee, receiver, or holder is licensed as a dealer under New Jersey law or has first secured a Permit to Purchase a handgun.

The permit shall be in the form prescribed by the Superintendent of State Police and shall be issued to the applicant in quadruplicate. The applicant prior to the time he receives the handgun from the seller shall deliver to the seller the permit in quadruplicate and the seller shall complete all of the information required on the form. Within 5 days of the date of sale, the seller shall forward the original copy to the superintendent and the second copy to the police chief of the municipality in which the purchaser resides, if the municipality has no police chief, the copy shall be forwarded to the superintendent. The third copy shall then be returned to the purchaser and the fourth copy shall be kept by the seller as a permanent record.

Only one handgun shall be purchased or delivered on each permit. A permit is required for private or dealer purchases.

Requirements for Obtaining Permit to Purchase or FID

The Police Chief of the municipality where the applicant resides or the Superintendent of State Police, in all other cases, shall upon application issue to any qualified applicant a Permit to Purchase or FID.

The fee for a Permit to Purchase is $2. The fee is submitted with the application. The Permit to Purchase shall be valid for 90 days from the date of issuance and may be renewed by the issuing authority for good cause for an additional 90 days. The FID fee is $5. It is submitted with the application. The FID is valid so long as the holder is eligible to obtain the FID. An additional $26 fingerprint fee must also be paid.

The Permit to Purchase or FID shall be granted to a qualified applicant within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application for residents and 45 days for nonresident applicants.

Applications for a Permit to Purchase or FID shall be in the form prescribed by the Superintendent of State Police and shall set forth the name, residence, place of business, age, date of birth, occupation, sex, and physical description of the applicant, and shall state whether the applicant is a citizen, whether an alcoholic, habitual drunkard, drug dependent person, whether he has ever been confined or committed to a mental institution or hospital for treatment or observation of a mental or psychiatric condition on a temporary, interim, or permanent basis, whether he has been attended, treated, or observed by any doctor or psychiatrist or at any hospital or mental institution on an inpatient or outpatient basis for any mental or psychiatric condition, whether he presently or ever has been a member of any organization which advocates or approves acts of force and violence to overthrow the government, or which seeks to deny others their constitutional rights, whether he has ever been ``convicted of a crime or disorderly persons offense,'' and ``such other information as the superintendent shall deem necessary for the proper enforcement of [the gun law].'' First time applicants must be fingerprinted.

The applicant shall waive all rights of confidentiality relating to institutional confinement and shall supply all necessary information on any mental or psychiatric treatment. The application shall contain as references two reputable citizens personally acquainted with the applicant.

There shall be no conditions or requirements added to the form or content of the application, or required by the licensing authority for the issuance of a Permit to Purchase or FID, other than those that are specifically set forth in the statute.

``No person of good character and good repute in the community in which he lives, and who is not subject to any of the disabilities. . . shall be denied a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, except as hereinafter set ;.''

No Permit to Purchase or FID shall be issued to any:

  1. Person ``Who has been convicted of a crime.''
  2. Drug dependent person, or person who is confined for a mental disorder to a hospital, mental institution or sanitarium, or to a habitual drunkard.
  3. Person who suffers from a physical defect or disease which would make it unsafe for him to handle firearms, to any person who has ever been confined for a mental disorder, or to any alcoholic unless any of the foregoing persons produce a certificate from a New Jersey licensed medical doctor or psychiatrist, or other satisfactory proof, that the applicant is no longer suffering from that particular disability in such a manner that would interfere with or handicap him in the handling of firearms.
  4. Person who knowingly falsifies any information on the application forms.
  5. Person under 18.
  6. ``Person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety, or welfare.''
Any person aggrieved by a denial of a Permit to Purchase or FID may request a hearing in the Superior Court of the county in which he resides if he is a resident or in the Superior Court of the county in which his application was filed if he is a non-resident. The request for a hearing shall be made in writing within 30 days of the denial. A copy of the request shall be served on the police chief of the applicant's residence, if the applicant is a New Jersey resident, and upon the Superintendent of State Police in all cases. A hearing will be held within 30 days of the receipt of the application for such hearing. No formal pleading and no filing fee shall be required as a preliminary to such hearing.


It is unlawful to knowingly have in your possession a:
  1. Handgun, including any antique handgun, without first obtaining a Permit to Carry. A Permit to Carry is required, and no differentiation is made between carrying openly or concealed.
  2. Rifle or shotgun without first obtaining a FID card.
A game law requires rifles and shotguns to be unloaded in a vehicle.

Exceptions: See ``Exceptions'' under POSSESSION.

Application for Permit to Carry: Application is made to the police chief where the applicant resides or to the Superintendent of State Police if the community does not have a police chief or if the applicant is a nonresident. The licensing authority makes a recommendation to a judge of the Superior Court who grants or denies the permit. The judge may also place restrictions on the permit. The permit is valid for two years and costs $20.

The applicant must meet the requirements of the Permit to Purchase and FID, be fingerprinted, prove his familiarity with the use of handguns, and have a ``justifiable need to carry a handgun.''

A description, including serial number, of every handgun which the applicant intends to carry must be provided. Only one permit need be obtained for all such handguns.

NOTE: Issuance of the permit is almost completely discretionary, and New Jersey courts have upheld the policy of strictly limiting permits ``to persons specifically employed in security work . . . and to others who can establish an urgent necessity for carrying guns for self-protection.''

Failure to give notice to an applicant within 60 days shall be deemed to be an approval of the permit. The procedure for appealing from a denial is the same as appealing from a denial of a Permit to Purchase or FID.

Antiques and Replicas

Antiques are defined as ``any firearm which is incapable of being fired or discharged, or which does not fire fixed ammunition regardless of date of manufacture, or which was manufactured before 1898 for which cartridge ammunition is not commercially available, and is possessed as a curiosity or ornament or for its historical significance or value.''

It is unlawful to possess an imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead an observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose.

Machine Guns

A machine gun is defined as ``any firearm, mechanism, or instrument not requiring that the trigger be pressed for each shot and having a reservoir belt, or other means of storing and carrying ammunition which can be loaded into the firearm, mechanism, or instrument and fired therefrom.''

Possession, carrying, purchase, or sale of a machine gun with out a license is prohibited. A license can be obtained by applying to a judge of the Superior Court where the applicant resides or, if a nonresident, where he conducts his business.

The judge will refer it to the county prosecutor for investigation and recommendation. A copy of the prosecutor's report shall be sent to the Superintendent of State Police and local police chief.

No license shall be issued unless the applicant would qualify for a Permit to Carry and the court finds ``that the public safety and welfare so require.'' The license is valid for one year, unless otherwise provided by the court. The court may also attach such conditions and limitations to the license as it deems to be in the public interest.

Restricted Firearms

New Jersey law restricts the ownership of certain semi-automatic and other firearms based upon their military appearance. The list includes:

   Algimec AGM1 type 
   Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder such as the "Street
   Sweeper" or "Striker 12" 
   Armalite AR-180 type 
   Australian Automatic Arms SAR 
   Avtomat Kalashnikov type semi-automatic firearms 
   Beretta AR-70 and BM59 semi-automatic firearms  
   Bushmaster Assault rifle 
   Calico M-900 Assault carbine and M-900 
   CETME G3 
   Chartered Industries of Singapore SR88 type Colt AR-15 and
   CAR-15 series 
   Daewoo K-1, K-2, Max 1 and Max 2,AR 100 types 
   Demro TAC-1 carbine type 
   Encom MP-9 and MP-45 carbine types
   FAMAS MAS 223 types
   FN-FAL, FN-FAR, or FN-FNC type semi-automatic firearms
   Franchi SPAS 12 and LAW 12 Shotguns
   G3SA type
   Galil type
   Heckler and Koch HK91, HK93, HK94, MP5, PSG-1
   Intratec TEC-9 and 22 semi-automatic firearms
   M1 carbine type
   M1 4S type, MAC10, MAC11, MAC11 9mm carbine type firearms
   PJK M-68 carbine type
   Plainfield Machine Co. Carbine
   Ruger K-Mini-14/5F and Mini-1 4/5RF
   SIG AMT, SIG 550SP, SIG 551SP, SIG-PE-57 types
   SKS with detachable magazine type
   Spectre Auto carbine type
   Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR-48 type
   Sterling MK-6, MK-7, and SAR types
   Steyr AUG semi-automatic firearms
   USAS 12 semi-automatic type shotgun
   Uzi type semi-automatic firearms
   Valmet M62, M71S, M76, or M78 type semi-automatic firearms
   Weaver Arms Nighthawk
The legislation also prohibits any firearms which are substantially identical to any of the above firearms; any semi-automatic shotgun with either a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a conspicuous pistol grip, or a folding stock; a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 15 rounds. Any magazine with a capacity greater than fifteen rounds is prohibited, even if there is no semi-automatic firearm to accompany the magazine.

A part or combination of parts to convert or assemble a firearm into an "assault firearm" is also forbidden. Any "assault firearm" not registered, licensed, or rendered inoperable pursuant to a state police certificate by May 8, 1991, is considered contraband.

Any "assault firearm" which was not owned prior to May 1, 1990, must be licensed. Application is made to the Superior Court for the county in which the person lives or conducts business. The fee is $75. The court must find that the public safety and welfare require the issuance of the license and the person must be qualified to obtain a handgun carrying license. For practical purposes, no one will be issued such a license.

Miscellaneous Provisions

New Jersey has a mandatory sentence provision for committing a variety of crimes, such as burglary, robbery, aggravated and sexual assault, with a firearm or while possessing a firearm.

It is unlawful to discharge any incendiary or tracer ammunition, except for law enforcement or military purposes. However, non-incendiary tracer shotgun ammunition may be used on trap and skeet ranges for target shooting purposes.

It is unlawful for any person to deface a firearm, or to knowingly have in his possession any firearm which has been defaced, except an antique firearm. To deface means "to remove, deface, cover, alter, or destroy the name of the maker, model designation, manufacturer's serial number, or any other distinguishing identification mark or number."

Civilians are prohibited from possessing silencers, shotguns with an over all length less than 26 inches and a barrel less than 18 inches, and rifles with an overall length less than 26 inches and a barrel less than 16 inches in length.

It is unlawful to loan money where the security for the loan is a firearm.

Retail gun dealers and their employees must be licensed by the judge of the Superior Court in the county where the business is located.

A Permit to Purchase or FID shall not be required for the passing of a firearm upon the owner's death to his heir or legatee. Unqualified recipients must dispose of the firearms within 180 days.

All wounds arising from or caused by a firearm must be reported at once to the police.

Every conviction for violating New Jersey's gun laws shall be certified "to the proper officer of the United States Government."

It is unlawful to leave a loaded firearm within reach or easy access of a person under 16. This provision does not apply to:

A firearm stored in a securely locked box or container; or in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure; or securely locked with a trigger lock; or under circumstances where a minor obtained a firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by person.

Wholesale and retail dealers of firearms must conspicuously post at each purchase counter, printed in block letters not less than one inch in height: "IT IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE TO LEAVE A LOADED FIREARM WITHIN EASY ACCESS OF A MINOR."

Caution: State firearms laws are subject to frequent change. The above summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.

                  Compiled by:
        NRA Institute for Legislative Action
              11250 Waples Mill Road
              Fairfax, Virginia 22030

   (c)  1994, NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

NS 01260                             Rev. 12/94