New Jersey Concealed Carry? It can happen...

Last year, I was asked by a student and friend if I would consider writing a letter of Recommendation to accompany an application for a New Jersey Concealed Carry Permit. A WHAT?! Now, for those of you who don’t know, I am originally from New Jersey. I moved from there in the 1980s and finished High School down south, but I grew up shooting guns in the sand pits and hunting in the pine forests. South Jersey has a lot more guns and gun owners than one might think… but, just about none of them have Concealed Carry Permits. Would I write a letter? Of course! I not only gave a personal endorsement, but also outlined the specific training that I had provided to the applicant in the past. Many months later, I learned that the permit was granted and I entered a celebratory post on Social Media. I happened to be teaching an Armed Home Defense class in New Jersey that day, so I guess the people of my home state were paying attention. There was a flood of negative response to my post. I was about flabbergasted. I had no idea that so many gun owners in NJ would outright accuse me of lying or suggest that the applicant must have bribed someone or been “related to a judge”.

I decide to start looking into a bit more. In conversations with many “in the know” about the CCW scene in New Jersey, it became apparent that the anti-gunners have just about won the war through terrorism. They have NJ Citizens scared to even apply for a permit. Because of this, less than 700 people applied in the last year for which there are records. You have to apply very two years… so, there are probably less than 2000 active permits in a state with almost 9 million people! And, the State gets to say that they grant well over 90% of the permits that are applied for, because it is true.

For a day or two, I politely replied to the crazy comments in social media. No, the applicant wasn’t a cop. No, the applicant didn’t make any special donations. No, I wasn’t talking about a Florida Non-Resident Permit.

Meanwhile, I was also talking to Alexander Roubian, the President of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society. Alexander has been a student in my classes and he is a friend of mine. I have supported NJ2AS and want to see them do even more to regain gun rights for NJ Residents. Alexander explained to me that many NJ Gun Owners have been put into a state of fear about the need to say that they were Denied a Permit to Carry (if it were to happen) on any future application to Purchase a firearm. Neither he nor anyone else can give me a single example of that ever having been a problem for anyone, certainly not any example of that disclosure leading to the denial of a permit to purchase. Still, that was the bottom line biggest fear everyone seemed to have that kept them from spending the less than $100 to apply for a permit.

This is how the anti-gunner’s win… people aren’t even applying for permits. Alex even sent me this picture, from a December 2015 NRA Publication (“America’s First Freedom”) that he thought reinforced the mindset of many NJ Gunowners that their rights are a lost cause:

This isn’t the most supportive or empowering kind of thing that a NJ Gun Owner could read…

Now, let’s look at this from a politician’s viewpoint: Should I care about changing Concealed Carry Laws in this State? We have 9 MILLION Residents. Significantly less than 1000 seem to care about carrying a gun. Almost all of the applicants get their permits issued. This isn’t something I need to worry about.

Imagine if we doubled the number of permit applications this year? Imagine if even only 1000 NJ gun Owners pushed the system to grant them permits so that they can exercise their rights? My guess is that the system would buckle and some politicians would start paying attention. NJ2AS has done much to publicize the corruption and subjectivity involved in the permit application process at the local level in NJ. I imagine that having more applicants would flush out even more of the bad apples in the system.

My, how things have changed.

As I look at the landscape of Concealed Carry and how it has changed over the past 30 years, I see New Jersey being left behind. In the mid 1980’s there was a better chance of getting a CCW Permit in New Jersey than there was in Texas! The growth of CCW has only been taken other Federal Courts in a very few states. Most of the positive changes we have seen have occurred because of grass roots efforts. The expansion of Shall Issue & Constitutional Carry Laws has occurred at the State Level because the gun owning populations of most States have not given up. I hope that the gun owners of New Jersey, California, New York, Massachusetts and every other State will continue to fight until we have a true representation of “Shall Not Be Infringed” nationwide. I offer whatever support I can to the gun rights organizations of those states.

So, now you know where I stand. Here is my friend’s story. It is possible to get a New Jersey Concealed Carry Permit… but, not if you won’t even be bothered to try. -RJP

“A little back story: I’ve held a NR FL CWFL (non-resident Florida Concealed Weapons and Firearm License) since 2006 and a NR UT CFP (non-resident Utah Concealed Firearm Permit) since 2013, neither of which was honored in NJ, because NJ reciprocates with no other state. I held two concealed licenses, but what did I really know about defensive shooting? I thought I knew enough when I started the NR FL CWFL process back in 2005. I carried legally in the few states that I traveled to that honored that license. At that point, I had been a ‘target shooter’ for about 20+ years. But, just carrying a handgun legally didn’t mean that I had the mindset to carry one safely despite knowing basic firearm safety. I needed to understand the fundamentals of being a defensive shooter, so in 2014 I decided to step outside of my ‘target shooter’ box and take a defensive shooting class. This was my opportunity to obtain that knowledge that I knew I needed to be a more responsible gun owner and licensed concealed carry holder. I was the only women in a class of law enforcement-type men and I didn’t care. And I was only one of two civilians. But, I did not want to be treated any differently because I was a woman or a civilian, so mentally I was all in because I felt confident in my knowledge and gun handling skills. Or so I thought. It was a 2-day, 1000-round course. I learned how to draw from a holster. Being from NJ, it was like a foreign object. I mean, who uses holsters in NJ other than Law Enforcement? Hmmm. We do have cowboys in South Jersey. But I was neither a cop nor a cowboy. Over those 2 days, I learned that defensive gun handling was different than target shooting gun handling. I learned that my intuition is a great asset in defensive shooting, but I also learned that I needed to work harder on my reaction time when a threat was recognized. It was the hardest two days of my life, both physically and mentally but it was also the best, most rewarding two days. I received my certificate of completion and more importantly the satisfaction of knowing that I was a more confident defensive shooter. I continued to attend a few more defensive shooting sessions and I gained even more knowledge and confidence each time. Armed with an “I can do anything now” attitude I continued to step outside of more boxes and went on become a certified Glock Armorer, Range Safety Officer, and I am currently working on becoming an Instructor.

I finally decided that I had enough skills and knowledge of firearms, more confidence in myself than ever, and what I felt was my “justifiable need” to apply for a NJ Permit to Carry a Handgun. I downloaded the necessary forms from the NJSP website and started to complete the paperwork in late September of 2016. I slowly gathered my 3 references signature’s and had it notarized. I compiled my letter of need, specific in content, as to why I believed I had a need to carry a firearm in the State of New Jersey. I then purchased a cashier’s check in the amount of $50 to cover my application fee. I took my time and made sure I met all of the requirements that NJ’s law demanded.

Sometime in mid-November, I went to my local police department to finally turn in my paperwork. Within a week, I received a letter from my police department that included my fingerprint form and instructions. The letter also stated that I was to return a completed mental health waiver, along with a copy of my driver’s license. My NJ Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FID card) was issued in 2001. At that time, fingerprints were rolled in ink; therefore I was required to schedule an appointment to have my fingerprints rolled digitally for the state’s files. The additional fee for that was $52.70 and that was paid electronically upon scheduling my appointment online. NOTE: I wouldn’t have had to pay that additional fee if my FID was issued more recently. My fingerprint appointment was scheduled at the end of November. Immediately after that appointment, I dropped off the police department’s copy along with the other documents as requested.

Now, it was time to wait. Christmas came and went. The New Year came and went. In the mail on Friday, the 13th of January, 2017, I received a letter from my Police Chief stating that he was denying my application due to lack of justifiable need, however, he was forwarding my application on to the County’s Superior Court for a hearing. Needless to say, I was devastated but it didn’t deter me from continuing the process. I guess some people would have let it end there for fear of a Superior Court denial, but I was determined to see it through. I figured if the Superior Court denied me, I would have to then disclose on all future pistol permit applications that I was denied a permit to carry a handgun, but so what. They can’t not issue me a permit to purchase a handgun based on a denial to carry one. One has nothing to do with the other. It just means that they felt that I didn’t have a justifiable need to carry one, not buy one. It’d be different if I was denied because of other reasons, i.e. criminal, mental, etc.

I received my Superior Court letter at the end of January and I was scheduled to appear mid-February. We all know what happens in mid-February. It’s winter. It snowed. My hearing was rescheduled for mid-March. Mid-March came and I finally appeared before the Superior Court Judge. He spoke at length about my reasons in my letter and requested that we reschedule my hearing, because he needed me to elaborate more specifically about details that I provided in my letter of need. And, despite my defensive shooting training that was outlined in my letter of need, he also asked that I provide a shooting qualification certification prior to my next hearing. The Judge asked the attorney representing NJ if he had any objections to his decision, and fortunately he did not. My final hearing was now rescheduled for mid-April.

I complied with the Judge’s request. I outlined more specifics regarding my need and provided a passing qualification letter and I re-appeared on my April date. Prior to entering the courtroom, the State’s attorney introduced himself in the hallway. I thought he was really nice and in my head I read way too much into his introduction. Could that be a sign that he was impressed with my qualifications? Yeah, right. Should I have felt confident that I was getting approved? Not. I did feel somewhat confident that my Chief was there but it turns out he was scheduled to appear on another case the very same day as my case. How lucky was I? Or, was that unlucky? I started doubting myself, but I remained relaxed and proceeded into the courtroom. The Judge gave a quick briefing of instructions to the courtroom, and then proceeded to hear cases. I was 2nd on his docket. The Judge proceeded to tell me that he reviewed my additional documents and that he was satisfied with what I had provided to him. He continued to speak to me for about 10 more minutes, asking me a series of questions that I confidently answered with, “Yes, your Honor. No, your Honor”. I was professional and respectful. Satisfied with my testimony, the Judge deferred to the State’s attorney for any questions or objections to his decision in which he had none. The Judge then approved my application for a license to carry a handgun in the state of NJ, with restrictions.

What restrictions, you ask? It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. I’ll take it. I got my foot in NJ’s CCW door despite a denial at the local level. It is possible. It is not impossible, as 99% of NJ’s firearms community will tell you. Don’t let fear be the deciding factor in your journey to applying. Don’t continue to perpetuate a NJ myth that has just been busted. What I took away from this entire process is that there isn’t some magical algorithm that everyone uses when applying for a Permit to Carry a Handgun in NJ anyway. If that were the case, more people would apply. It’s like having the answers to a test in advance. I didn’t have any answers. I only followed the requirements as set by NJ State Police. Granted, NJ residents would agree that those requirements need to change, however the laws will not change unless more people stand up and fight for themselves, and apply. I stood up. Won’t you?

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9 Responses to “New Jersey Concealed Carry? It can happen...”

  1. Bill G

    this read like an infomercial, hype with no solid info, personal info is not needed but guide lines are. you could have just said , you have to be in it to win it, and saved us all a bit of time, don't let this discourage you and try again.

  2. Louis Decree

    I'm trying to become an armed guard ..a lot of companies here want you to already be able to carry. Im in Newark nj. I need help

  3. S

    Thanks for an absolutely useless article and a waste of my time! Without mentioning your particular "Justifiable need", this information is useless. Did you have a crazy stalker? Carry millions in cash? That need is literally the linchpin around which the entire issue revolves...and you omitted it! Thanks for the waste of an article.

  4. Tony

    I would really like to know the specific reasons you gave on the application for carrying a handgun? i think that would help. If i were to fill out the application and out in self defense or my 2nd amendment right would get me too far

  5. Sam

    Good read.. seriously considering trying myself. I'm on the younger side, however, so I don't want to ruin it for myself should I be denied.

  6. Jack Tucker

    Thank you for taking the time to write this out. I am a former LEO (only 3 years) and I am currently licensed armed in FL (M,C,D,G) and PA (Act235) and NJ SORA. I work in Phila from time to time, and have to keep my firearm locked at a range in Phila, because it is illegal for me to transport a firearm from my home in NJ to Phila to do my job. I have been told not to even bother, ad the few attorneys I have spoken to charge $1000+ for a crap shoot. Your post has given me a sliver of hope.

  7. Tom rogers

    I operate a ATM company in New Jersey . I to was denied my ccw permit after 6-7 months at the local level . I've since retained a top gun attorney to proceed to the county court (Monmoth county ) I'm awaiting my day in court . I've spent several thousand dollars , training , qualification and now a top gun attorney Will keep you posted. TR

  8. Tom R Rogers

    I've applied for my ccw in February 2017,I operate a ATM business ,as of yet have not gotten a decision .today I retained Evan Nappen to assist in my efforts ...I'll keep you posted TR

  9. Durham Snider

    I'd like to hear more on the "reason for application" or "special needs" portion of the application. Obviously a simple "self defense" wouldn't suffice but is a single specific on-going event necessary, such as a connection to a restraining order?