An Act concerning handgun carry permits and amending 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: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] subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:39-5. 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  two years 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  two years in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as in the case of original applications.
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] any 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  three 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.] subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3, that he is thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns, and that he has a justifiable need to carry a handgun.
Each application form shall be accompanied by a written certification of justifiable need to carry a handgun, which shall be under oath and, in the case of a private citizen, shall specify in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun. Where possible, the applicant shall corroborate the existence of any specific threats or previous attacks by reference to reports of the incidents to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
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.] subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3, 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 the provisions of subsection c. of this section. 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] the 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] $20.
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] the 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] the 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] the 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, and the holder of [such] a void permit shall immediately surrender the permit to the superintendent who shall give notice to the licensing authority.
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.
(cf: P.L.1981, c.135, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill codifies the definition of justifiable need to carry a handgun as set forth in the New Jersey Administrative Code.
Under current law, in order to lawfully carry a handgun in public, it is necessary for a private citizen to obtain a permit to carry a handgun. Applicants for a permit to carry a handgun need the approval of the chief of police in the municipality where they reside and the approval of a Superior Court judge in the county where they reside. Approval is contingent upon a person submitting, with an application, a written certification establishing justifiable need.
Under current regulations (N.J.A.C.13:54-2.4), justifiable need is defined as the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry. This bill codifies this definition in statute.
The Department of Law and Public Safety has adopted an amendment to N.J.A.C.13:54-2.4 that added "serious threats" to the circumstances that could demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life that could be specified in the written certification of justifiable need. In addition, the revised regulation also specifies that a permit to carry a handgun can be issued based on a special danger to the applicant's life that cannot be avoided by other "reasonable" means.
According to the sponsor, current law and judicial interpretations of the justifiable need standard clearly require demonstration of an urgent necessity for protection from a specific threat to one's life rather than a mere generalized fear or concern. Therefore, the revision to N.J.A.C.13:54-2.4, which expands the scope of the right to carry well beyond that authorized under current law and judicial interpretation, is inconsistent with the Legislature's intent to strictly limit who carries a handgun outside the home in this State. If enacted, the bill would negate this regulation.
Codifies regulations defining justifiable need to carry handgun.