New Jersey Gun Laws

Gun Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey law stipulates that those who own firearms are required to have Firearm Purchaser cards before any kind of shotgun, rifle, or handgun can be purchased. This also includes all kinds of ammunition. This purchaser permit does not need to be renewed as it does not expire.

New Jersey LawsThe local police will issue a ninety-day permit for the purchase of a handgun, which is different than a lifetime Firearm Purchaser card. When these kinds of permits are issued, extensive application is needed along with background checking through the State Bureau of Identification and the state police as well as several references to be checked.

After an application has been completed, the permit will be approved or denied within thirty days of filing. This process can at times take much longer. As of the first of January 2010 New Jersey law limits purchasing a handgun to only one per thirty days.

The state of New Jersey states that semi-automatic rifles and handguns may only have a maximum of fifteen rounds inside the magazine. Hollow point ammunition is not allowed inside New Jersey state lines unless it is on an individual’s personal property or in the home, and may be used while at the shooting range or while hunting.

Certain semi-automatic weapons are also prohibited inside state lines. The Assault Weapons Ban disallowed police officers from carrying these kinds of firearms unless otherwise permitted by the chief of police for official use. Magazine limitations do not apply to police officers–either on duty or off duty–when approved by the police department.

New Jersey is bordered by New York on the north and east, Pennsylvania to the west, Delaware to the southwest, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.

New Jersey Duty to Retreat

In New Jersey, a person has a duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. This means that if a person can safely remove themselves from the situation and avoid the use of deadly force, they must do so.

New Jersey law states that a person is justified in using deadly force only if they are unable to safely retreat from the situation. If they can safely remove themselves from harm’s way, then they must do so before resorting to deadly force. The law also states that a person cannot use deadly force against an intruder if the intruder is retreating or attempting to surrender.

New Jersey courts have consistently held that an individual must attempt to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense unless it would be unsafe or impractical to do so. It is important for individuals who find themselves in potentially dangerous situations to understand their duty to retreat before resorting to the use of deadly force.

Carrying Handguns

The law for carrying handguns is very different in New Jersey and is unlike other states. The state law enforcement and the state legislature have created a policy that limits the carrying of handguns to those who use them to earn a living.

All handgun owners must be registered to have them in their possession. Permits are also necessary to carry and purchase handguns. Registration for handguns is not necessary but the police department does require that records be collected when a handgun transfer has been completed.

Waiting Period

New Jersey imposes a seven (7) day waiting period before purchasing a firearm.

Background Checks

A person acquiring a handgun must have a permit to purchase a handgun. A person acquiring a long gun must have a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. The private sale of a long gun does not require a background check.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

New Jersey generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit. People without permits may only carry a firearm if it is unloaded and either secured in a locked container or locked in the trunk. It is illegal to carry a loaded long gun in a vehicle. Furthermore, without a permit, firearms may only be carried to or from: the place of purchase or repair, Your home or business, a shooting range, or hunting activities.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. New Jersey has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry it in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant – You are prohibited from carrying into these areas. You can carry Your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from carrying it while you consume alcohol.

Self-defense Laws

New Jersey has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to prevent an unlawful intruder in a dwelling from inflicting unlawful force against an occupant of the dwelling.

Open Carry

Open carry is illegal in New Jersey. There is no law against open carry, but You must have a “License to Carry Firearm Concealed” to carry a firearm in New Jersey. The license gives You the ability to carry only a concealed firearm and not to open carry a firearm. Thus, You have to have a license to carry any firearm in New Jersey and that license is only for carrying a firearm concealed.

Shotguns and Rifles

Most other states of the United States do not require any kind of permit for carrying a rifle or a shotgun, but New Jersey is the exception. A Firearm Purchaser identification card is needed before a purchase can be made for any kind of rifle or shotgun. No registration is needed, however, to have shotguns or rifles. Owners also do not need to have permits to own these kinds of firearms. But like handguns, a permit is necessary when carrying a shotgun or rifle. This kind of permit is the Firearm Purchaser identification card.

Assault Weapons Ban

It is illegal to possess an assault weapon, unless it was possessed before May 1, 1990, and registered with the state. Assault weapons may not be sold or transferred to any person other than a licensed gun dealer or any individual who is going to relinquish it to the police.

High-Capacity Magazine Ban

New Jersey bans the intrastate manufacture, sale, transportation, and possession of magazines with the capacity to hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition. In addition, possession and transportation of hollow point ammunition are generally prohibited except on or to one’s private property, a shooting range, or a gun club registered with the New Jersey state police.

Other New Jersey Stipulations

By law the state of New Jersey requires that a minimum of thirty days must pass before a permit for purchasing a gun is valid. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also may run National Instant Checks through state systems. Sales records are always kept after a purchase has been completed.

Reciprocal Carry

New Jersey does not recognize any other state’s CCW license.

Criminal Provisions

To obtain a firearm in New Jersey an individual must first obtain a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPID), which requires passing a background check. It is required for any person to purchase a gun. There is a separate FPID for the purchase of a handgun than for the purchase a rifle or shotgun. A handgun FPID is valid for the purchase of one handgun and lasts for ninety (90) days from issue, and a long gun FPID allows the purchase of an unlimited number of shotguns or rifles. Only one handgun can be purchased within a 30-day period. A New Jersey-specific license to carry a handgun, if You are somehow able to obtain one via a showing of a “compelling need”, is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • On school, college, or university grounds
  • On or in a casino
  • Motor vehicles can be impounded if the driver unlawfully has a gun inside the vehicle
  • State Parks
  • Firearm owners cannot purchase more than one handgun in any thirty (30) day period
  • Theft or loss of any firearm must be reported to the police within thirty-six (36) hours of the discovery of the theft or loss


New Jersey gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. The state has a long list of laws about who can own firearms, where and when they can be carried, how they must be stored, and what types of weapons are allowed. New Jersey also requires background checks for private sales and magazine restrictions for certain firearms. Although the laws may not completely prevent violent crimes from occurring, they provide an extra layer of protection to the citizens of New Jersey.

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