To the chagrin of several gun-rights groups in the Northeast, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed 10 different pieces of firearms legislation aimed at tightening gun ownership laws and increasing penalties for unlawful gun possession in the Garden State.

One of the most significant amendments made by these new laws is the mandate that anyone on the federal Terrorist Watchlist is now automatically disqualified from obtaining a firearms ID card or a permit to purchase a handgun in New Jersey. This particular law change has created some controversy given the secret nature of the Terrorist Watchlist, not to mention the inability of those on the list to petition to have their names removed.

However, one of the things that did not change as a result of the new legislation is the appeals process for those initially denied a firearms ID card or permit to purchase a handgun. Specifically, this process requires the denied applicant to request an appeals hearing before the New Jersey Superior Court in the county in which they live within 30 days of the denial of his or her application.

The applicant must also serve a copy of this hearing request on the police chief or superintendent that originally denied the application. In many instances, the applicant will seek the counsel of an attorney who has extensive knowledge of New Jersey gun laws when going through this appeals process.

Permits to carry handguns in New Jersey

Interestingly, the new gun legislation is not the only recent development regarding New Jersey gun laws. In fact, the federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion upholding New Jersey’s statute for granting permits to carry handguns just a week before Gov. Christie signed the new legislation.

This particular case stemmed from a dispute regarding the New Jersey law that dictates that anyone wishing to obtain a permit to carry a handgun must be able to prove that he or she has a “justifiable need” to carry the firearm. Opponents of the law claimed that it violated their constitutional right to bear arms – although the court disagreed when it stated that the “‘justifiable need’ standard […] is a longstanding regulation that enjoys presumptive constitutionality.”

Consequently, those in New Jersey wishing to be granted a permit to carry a handgun must still be able to show that they have a justifiable need, such as an urgent necessity to carry the handgun for self protection. If they cannot meet this burden, they run the risk of being charged with the unlawful possession of weapons if arrested while carrying their handguns.

In fact, it is important to note that the recent New Jersey gun legislation has also made it a first degree crime to carry a handgun without a permit if the accused has been previously convicted of several enumerated crimes, including murder, manslaughter and robbery, just to name few.

Seek assistance if facing charges

In the end, these new gun laws place additional burdens on those wishing to own or carry guns for self-protection – with severe penalties possible for noncompliance. Accordingly, if you are currently facing charges of unlawful gun possession, or alternatively were denied a permit to purchase a handgun or firearms ID card, it is often best to speak with an experienced gun possession attorney to learn what your rights and options may be. A skilled attorney can review your case and help ensure your rights are protected.

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