Senator JEFF VAN DREW
District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)
Revises qualifications for handgun permit, establishes crimes for certain handgun use; establishes annual fee of $100.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning permits and penalties for use of certain firearms and amending N.J.S.2C:39-4 and N.J.S.2C:58-4.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.2C:39-4 is amended to read as follows:
2C:39-4. Possession of weapons for unlawful purposes.
a. Firearms. (1) Any person who has in his possession any firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
(2) Any person who possesses, receives or transfers a community gun is guilty of a crime of the second degree and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term. The minimum term shall be fixed at one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater and during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. As used in this paragraph, "community gun" means a firearm that is transferred among, between or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.
(3) Any person who unlawfully possesses a handgun, with the purpose to use it unlawfully to commit a violent crime or unlawfully possesses a handgun while committing a violent crime against another, or unlawfully possesses a handgun during the immediate flight from the commission of a violent crime, is guilty of a crime of the first degree for which the person shall serve a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole. “Violent crime” in this paragraph means the following:
(i) N.J.S.2C:11-3, murder;
(ii) N.J.S.2C:11-4, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter;
(iii) subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12-1, aggravated assault;
(iv) subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1996, c.14 (C.2C:12-11), disarming a law enforcement officer;
(v) N.J.S.2C:13-1, kidnapping;
(vi) subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:14-2, aggravated sexual assault;
(vii) subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:14-2 and paragraph (1) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:14-2, sexual assault;
(viii) N.J.S.2C:15-1, robbery;
(ix) section 1 of P.L.1993, c.221 (C.2C:15-2), carjacking;
(x) paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:17-1, aggravated arson;
(xi) N.J.S.2C:18-2, burglary;
(xii) subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:20-5, extortion;
(xiii) N.J.S.2C:35-9, strict liability for drug induced deaths;
(xiv) section 2 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-2), terrorism; or
(xv) section 3 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-3), producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear or radiological devices.
Conviction of a crime under this paragraph shall not merge with the conviction of any other crime.
b. Explosives. Any person who has in his possession or carries any explosive substance with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
c. Destructive devices. Any person who has in his possession any destructive device with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
d. Other weapons. Any person who has in his possession any weapon, except a firearm, with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
e. Imitation firearms. Any person who has in his possession an imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead an observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
(cf: P.L.2007, c.24, s.1)
2. N.J.S.2C:58-4 is amended to read as follows:
2C:58-4. a. Scope and duration of authority. Any person who holds a valid permit to carry a handgun issued pursuant to this section shall be authorized to carry a handgun in all parts of this State, except as prohibited by section 2C:39-5e. One permit shall be sufficient for all handguns owned by the holder thereof, but the permit shall apply only to a handgun carried by the actual and legal holder of the permit.
All permits to carry handguns shall expire [2 years] one year from the date of issuance or, in the case of an employee of an armored car company, upon termination of his employment by the company occurring prior thereto whichever is earlier in time, and they may thereafter be renewed every [2 years] year in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as in the case of original applications, except as otherwise hereinafter provided.
b. Application forms. All applications for permits to carry handguns, and all applications for renewal of such permits, shall be made on the forms prescribed by the superintendent. Each application shall set forth the full name, date of birth, sex, residence, occupation, place of business or employment, and physical description of the applicant, and such other information as the superintendent may prescribe for the determination of the applicant's eligibility for a permit and for the proper enforcement of this chapter. The application shall be signed by the applicant under oath, and shall be indorsed by three reputable persons who have known the applicant for at least 3 years preceding the date of application, and who shall certify thereon that the applicant is a person of good moral character and behavior.
c. Investigation and approval. Each application shall in the first instance be submitted to the chief police officer of the municipality in which the applicant resides, or to the superintendent, (1) if the applicant is an employee of an armored car company, or (2) if there is no chief police officer in the municipality where the applicant resides, or (3) if the applicant does not reside in this State. The chief police officer, or the superintendent, as the case may be, shall cause the fingerprints of the applicant to be taken and compared with any and all records maintained by the municipality, the county in which it is located, the State Bureau of Identification and the Federal Bureau of Identification. He shall also determine and record a complete description of each handgun the applicant intends to carry.
No application shall be approved by the chief police officer or the superintendent unless the applicant demonstrates that he is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in 2C:58-3c., and that he is [thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns, and that he has a justifiable need] qualified to carry a handgun. For the purposes of this paragraph, an applicant shall be deemed qualified if: (1) a criminal history record background check reveals no disqualifying information; (2) the applicant successfully completes a course of instruction in the safe use, maintenance, and storage of firearms which is approved by the Police Training Commission; (3) the applicant demonstrates proficiency in the use of, and qualifies with, a firearm of the type to be carried; and (4) the applicant successfully completes a course in the lawful use of force and the justifiable use of a firearm which is approved by the superintendent. The applicant shall be responsible for all the costs of meeting the requirements and qualifications set forth in this paragraph. If the application is not approved by the chief police officer or the superintendent within 60 days of filing, it shall be deemed to have been approved, unless the applicant agrees to an extension of time in writing.
d. Issuance by Superior Court; fee. If the application has been approved by the chief police officer or the superintendent, as the case may be, the applicant shall forthwith present it to the Superior Court of the county in which the applicant resides, or to the Superior Court in any county where he intends to carry a handgun, in the case of a nonresident or employee of an armored car company. The court shall issue the permit to the applicant if [,but only if,] it is satisfied that the applicant is a person of good character who is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in section 2C:58-3c., that he is thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns, and that he has [a justifiable need to carry a handgun] , in accordance with subsection c. of this section, been deemed qualified to carry and his application has been approved by the chief police officer or the superintendent, as the case may be. The court may at its discretion issue a limited-type permit which would restrict the applicant as to the types of handguns he may carry and where and for what purposes such handguns may be carried. At the time of issuance, the applicant shall pay to the county clerk of the county where the permit was issued a permit fee of [$20.00] $100 which shall be dispersed pursuant to subjection h. of this section.
e. Appeals from denial of applications. Any person aggrieved by the denial by the chief police officer or the superintendent of approval for a permit to carry a handgun may request a hearing in the Superior Court of the county in which he resides or in any county in which he intends to carry a handgun, in the case of a nonresident, by filing a written request for such a hearing within 30 days of the denial. Copies of the request shall be served upon the superintendent, the county prosecutor and the chief police officer of the municipality where the applicant resides, if he is a resident of this State. The hearing shall be held within 30 days of the filing of the request, and no formal pleading or filing fee shall be required. Appeals from the determination at such a hearing shall be in accordance with law and the rules governing the courts of this State.
If the superintendent or chief police officer approves an application and the Superior Court denies the application and refuses to issue a permit, the applicant may appeal such denial in accordance with law and the rules governing the courts of this State.
f. Revocation of permits. Any permit issued under this section shall be void at such time as the holder thereof becomes subject to any of the disabilities set forth in [section 2C:58-3c.] subsection c. of N.J.S.2C.58-3 or fails to qualify semi-annually in the use of his handgun, and the holder of such a void permit shall immediately surrender the permit to the superintendent who shall give notice to the licensing authority.
The permit holder shall be responsible for the full cost of qualifying in the use of his handgun.
Any permit may be revoked by the Superior Court, after hearing upon notice to the holder, if the court finds that the holder is no longer qualified for the issuance of such a permit. The county prosecutor of any county, the chief police officer of any municipality, the superintendent or any citizen may apply to the court at any time for the revocation of any permit issued pursuant to this section.
g. Permit renewals. In a manner and form prescribed by the superintendent, a permit holder may apply each year to renew his permit to carry a handgun. The qualifications and requirements for renewal shall be the same as those set forth in subsection c. of this section for applicants seeking an initial permit.
h. The $100 annual fee for each permit shall be distributed as follows: $25 to the law enforcement agency that reviewed the application; $25 to the county clerk where the permit was issued; and $50 to the State Treasurer for deposit in the General Fund.
(cf: P.L.1981, c.135, s.1)
3. Section 1 of this act shall take effect immediately and section 2 of this act shall take effect on the first day of sixth month following enactment and shall apply to all permits to carry a handgun applied for and issued on or after that day.
This bill establishes a crime of the first degree for a person to plan or commit certain violent crimes while unlawfully in possession of a handgun. The convicted person would serve would serve a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed during which the person shall not be eligible for parole. A crime of the first degree is punishable by 10 to 20 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $200,000, or both. Under current law, the possession of a firearm with the intent to use it unlawfully is a second degree crime. A second degree crime is punishable by a prison term of 5 to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.
This bill also revises the law governing the issuing of permits to carry handguns in the State of New Jersey.
Under the provisions of this bill, an applicant for a permit to carry would no longer have to establish the court standard “justifiable need.” An applicant only would instead need to show that they are “qualified” to carry. An applicant is deemed qualified under the bill if: (1) a criminal history record background check reveals no disqualifying information; (2) the applicant successfully completes a course of instruction in the safe use, maintenance, and storage of firearms which is approved by the Police Training Commission; (3) the applicant demonstrates proficiency in the use of, and qualifies with, a firearm of the type to be carried; and (4) the applicant successfully completes a course in the lawful use of force and the justifiable use of a firearm which is approved by the superintendent. The bill specifies that the applicant is responsible for all the costs involved in meeting these requirements and qualifications.
A permit to carry is valid for one year and is renewable. An applicant for a permit renewal must meet the same requirements and qualifications.
The annual fee for the permit is $100. The permit fees are to be allocated as follows: $25 to the law enforcement agency that processes the application; $25 to the county clerk of the county that issues the permit; and $50 to the State Treasurer for deposit in the General Fund.