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When Does a Legal Firearm Become Illegal?


Limitations on Your Right to Bear Arms

The Second Amendment is a crucial constitutional right in America. While countless citizens exercise their right to bear arms, many people don’t realize that strict rules govern who can and cannot possess a firearm. New Jersey, like many states, strictly enforces the legal possession of firearms, therefore it’s beneficial to learn its firearm laws to best avoid a weapons crime accusation.

If you have a valid New Jersey Firearms Purchaser ID (FPID) card, you may legally possess a firearm where the issuing court permits and under the conditions in which they impose. As a may-issue state, concealed weapons permits are issued at the local level, meaning law enforcement and local judges may issue firearm and handgun permits at their discretion.

While you may legally possess a firearm or handgun with a permit in New Jersey, some cases prohibit the use of such weapons. Under 2C:39-4: Possession of weapons for unlawful purposes, the following circumstances are illegal and punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison:

  • Any person who possesses 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.
  • 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.

A "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.

Further, any person who possesses 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. If convicted, the penalties include up to 18 months in state prison.

Avoiding Firearm Charges in NJ

Charges concerning the possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes are typically one of the various charges a person can get when accused of a violent or weapon-related crime. However, this offense may happen if a person has a firearm in their car but mishandles it. If the following guidelines aren’t followed, a person may get a criminal charge:

  • Unload the firearm
  • Put it in a closed and fastened case, gun box, securely tired package or locked in the trunk of the car in which it’s being transported
    • If there is no trunk, put the firearm and ammunition in a locked container as far away from the driver as possible
  • Transport the ammunition in a separate container and locked in the trunk of the car in which it’s being transported
  • Ammunition magazine may be loaded while being transported but must be carried separately from the firearm

Our Bergen County weapon crime defense attorney is deeply knowledgeable about New Jersey’s firearm and handgun laws. Since it is a may-issue state, New Jersey firearm laws can get confusing and complicated for those who have a permit. To best avoid a weapons crime charge and learn more about how NJ firearm laws apply to you, we encourage you to call (201) 574-7919 for a free consultation!

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