Disarming Domestic Abusers

In early 2017, New Jersey enacted a law that requires certain domestic abusers to surrender their firearms and permits. As of August 1, 2017, individuals convicted of a crime or offense involving domestic violence will be required to arrange for the immediate surrender to a law enforcement officer of any firearm that has not already been seized or surrendered and any firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun possessed by the defendant. Within five days of the conviction order, the defendant may arrange to sell any surrendered firearm to a licensed firearms dealer. Within ten days of the entry of the order, the dealer must take possession of that purchased firearm from the law enforcement agency to which the firearms were surrendered. Upon conviction, any card or permit issued to the defendant shall be deemed immediately revoked.

A law enforcement officer accepting a surrendered firearm shall provide the defendant with a receipt, and the defendant must provide a copy of the receipt to the prosecuting attorney within 48 hours of service of the order. The defendant must also attest under penalty of perjury that any firearms he or she owned or possessed at the time of the order have been transferred and that the defendant currently does not possess any firearms. The defendant alternatively may attest under penalty that he did not own or possess a firearm at the time of the order and currently does not possess a firearm. If the court, upon motion of the prosecutor, finds probable cause that the defendant has failed to surrender any firearm, card, or permit, the court may order a search for and removal of these items at any location where the judge has reasonable cause to believe these items are located.1

The 2017 law also creates a process for disarming people subject to domestic violence restraining orders. As of August 1, 2017, individuals subject to temporary restraining orders that specifically prohibit the respondent from possessing firearms, or restraining orders issued after a hearing on the merits, must dispose of their firearms according to the following procedures: A law enforcement officer shall accompany the individual, or proceed without the individual if necessary, to any place where he or she stores firearms. The officer shall take custody of the firearms.2

Any person whose firearm has been seized and not returned will be denied any permit to purchase a handgun or Firearms Purchaser Identification Card.3

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, New Jersey passed an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law that enables individuals who are most likely to notice the warning signs of violence– family and household members and law enforcement officers– to petition a court to remove guns from a person in crisis.4 If the court determines that the person (known as a “respondent”) poses a significant risk of harm to himself, herself, or others, it will issue an order prohibiting the respondent from purchasing or possessing guns for one year. An individual subject to an ERPO must relinquish his or her guns to law enforcement.5 New Jerseys’s law goes into effect on September 1, 2019. Read more about these types of laws on our policy page, Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

Ineligible Firearms Purchaser Identification Card Holders

A Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC) is valid for the purchase of multiple long guns until a holder becomes subject to any of the prohibited categories under New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:58-3c.6 If an FPIC holder becomes ineligible, his or her FPIC automatically becomes void and the holder must return it within five days to the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. Failure to return the FPIC in this manner subjects the ineligible holder to criminal liability. Moreover, an FPIC may be revoked by the Superior Court of the county where it was issued, after notice and a hearing, if the court finds the holder ineligible to purchase or possess firearms. The county prosecutor of any county, the chief police officer of any municipality, or any citizen may apply to the court for revocation of a FPIC.7

Persons Reported by Licensed Mental Health Practitioners

Under certain circumstances, licensed mental health practitioners are required to take actions to prevent harm by patients who make specific, credible threats of physical violence against reasonably identifiable persons including notifying law enforcement of the threat. ((N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:62A-16(b).)) Upon receipt of the information, law enforcement shall use that information to ascertain whether the patient has been issued a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or any other permit or license authorizing possession of a firearm. If so, or if there is information indicating that the patient otherwise may have access to a firearm, law enforcement may use the information to determine whether the patient has become subject to a firearms prohibition. See Prohibited Purchasers Generally in New Jersey to learn more about which categories of people are prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms in New Jersey.

If law enforcement determines that the patient is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, any identification card or permit issued to the patient shall be void and subject to revocation by the Superior Court. If the court confirms that the patient is prohibited from possessing firearms and revokes the patient’s firearms identification card, the court may order the patient to surrender to the county prosecutor any firearm owned by or accessible to the patient and order the prosecutor to dispose of the firearms.8

Notes
  1. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-27(c)(1), effective August 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  2. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:25-28(j), effective August 1, 2017; 2C:25-29(b), effective August 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3c(8). ⤴︎
  4. N.J. Stat. Ann. §  2C:58-20 et seq. ⤴︎
  5. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-26(b). ⤴︎
  6. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3f. ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:62A-16(e). ⤴︎