Gun Lawyer Episode 168
new jersey, gun, registration, firearm, possession, acquisition, possess, registered, state, unlawful, law, years, pistol, police, handgun, involuntary, exemptions, permit, firearms, expungement
Evan Nappen, Speaker 3
Evan Nappen 00:00
Hi. I’m Evan Nappen, and welcome to Gun Lawyer. The registration trap. That’s right, that’s what New Jersey has laid for gun owners. A trap in the form of registration. Now, registration is a trap because, as we’ve discussed many times, registration is a piece of the plan. By getting registration, they then get to know where the guns are and that’s why we see the four words that we all know. Legislation, Registration, Confiscation then Extermination. That’s what has been repeated throughout history. Every major Holocaust was preceded by those events and others, but that was always part of it. Get the guns away from the people that are going to be the genocide victims. So, we don’t want to go down that path. Registration leading to confiscation, whether there is a follow up of genocide or not, is still no good. Because it is our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. We want to keep our rights, and we want to be able to protect ourselves and our family.
Evan Nappen 01:37
So, what is the deal with registration in New Jersey? Well, I want to tell you right now the Gun Owner Fuck Up of the week. I’m going to tell you now. Usually, I save it until the end of the show, but I just want to tell you right now. The GOFU is registration doesn’t fix it. Okay, registration will not fix a problem regarding the legality of your gun possession. And that is because registration is not a component, legally, of gun possession in New Jersey. This is a common misconception. In New Jersey, registration is voluntary. It’s voluntary unless you’re purchasing a handgun in New Jersey. Then you need a pistol purchase permit, and the pistol purchase permit is a form of register. But the only thing that gets registered is the purchase. It’s not a possession registration. It’s a purchase registration. Meaning at that moment in time, you made a purchase and that purchase got registered. But there’s no charge in New Jersey of possession of an unregistered gun unless you happen to be a new resident.
Evan Nappen 03:21
If you just recently moved here, Murphy mandates that you register your guns when residents do not have to and get a Firearms (Purchaser) ID Card. But we’re not talking about the new residents where there’s a mandate on them to have to actually register their guns. There’s no mandate on current residents and on individuals to have their guns registered. If you possess an unregistered gun in New Jersey, there’s no crime for that. There’s no charge. There’s no criminal charge of possession of an unregistered gun. There’s just unlawful possession, and unlawful possession isn’t whether or not your gun is registered or not. That has nothing to do with whether your possession is lawful or not. Lawful Page – 2 – of 7
possession depends on either (a) you have a license, meaning for a handgun, a carry permit, not a permit to purchase. That doesn’t allow you to have possession. That just lets you buy the gun. A permit to carry can cover you for a possession charge. If it’s a long arm, you need a Firearms ID Card. That’s the license that applies to your possession of a long arm.
Evan Nappen 04:55
Now if you don’t have the license(s), can you still possess guns? Yes, you possess guns by way of the exemptions. The exemptions are found under N.J.S. 2C:39-6. Particularly subsection e. says possession in one’s home, and subsection f. of 2C:39-6 is possession at the target range or while hunting. The e. exemption also includes place of business and going to get your gun repaired, etc. Those are the exemptions. So, you can possess firearms in New Jersey under the exemptions without a license. Then if you have a license, you have broader ability to possess, but registration has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Nothing to do with it. People have this misunderstanding that if they register it, it’ll fix whatever the problem is. If they have unlawfully acquired a firearm, let’s say, well, I’ll just go register it. Well, if you go do a voluntary registration, all you’re doing is incriminating yourself to the unlawful acquisition that you made. It asks where you got it and when you got it. Right? Boom. Now you’re making a self-incrimination that you had no reason, obligation or basis to do because you thought registration would fix it. Well, there’s nothing to fix that registration can address. So, you don’t want to do that.
Evan Nappen 06:42
Instead of incriminating yourself with a useless registration, if you understood instead how the criminal laws work, you would know that the unlawful acquisition that you made. Let’s just say straight out you made an unlawful acquisition. You got a gun handgun, and you didn’t get a permit (to purchase) it. When you got it doesn’t matter. You bought it at a garage sale. You bought it at an antique show. You bought it at a flea market. You bought it from a friend, a buddy, but you didn’t do the paperwork. It doesn’t matter. You got it from a family relative or given as a gift with no paper. Any of these things, well, you made an unlawful acquisition because you didn’t get a pistol purchase permit. You needed one, and you didn’t get it. The charge of unlawful acquisition of a handgun is a standalone charge. It has nothing to do with registration or not. It’s just your acquisition. Your obtaining of it was illegal. There is a five year statute of limitations. So, the State, if they’re going to successfully prosecute you for your unlawful acquisition of that handgun, has five years from the date of your acquisition to do that. If they don’t bring that prosecution, meaning indict you, because it’s B Felony Level, what we call a Crime in Jersey, within five years of your unlawful acquisition, they cannot prosecute you for that crime. So, the offense of unlawful acquisition is dead in the water after five years.
Evan Nappen 08:32
So, you unlawfully acquired this handgun, and you possess it in your home. But you absolutely acquired it with no paper, illegally, pal illegally, no question about it. But more than five years have passed. The State can’t charge you with unlawful acquisition successfully because of the statute limitations. So, what can they charge you with? Oh, can they charge you with unlawful possession of a handgun? Well, they could, but what happens if they do? If they charge you with unlawful possession of a handgun under N.J.S. 2C:39-5b., as in boy, which is the handgun possession charge, and you have this gun in your home. Then you say N.J.S. 2C:39-6e., small letter e. You are allowed to possess a Page – 3 – of 7
handgun in your home. You’re exempt from the handgun charge. So, even though your acquisition was unlawful, your possession is now lawful. There’s no reason to “register” that gun. You would simply incriminate yourself, and put you in an unnecessary database about a handgun that you unlawfully acquired but now lawfully possess. That’s how it works, folks.
Evan Nappen 10:16
Yet, if you go to the (New Jersey) State Police website where they have FAQ on firearms, they have a question here about this situation. (https://www.nj.gov/njsp/firearms/firearms-faqs.shtml) It says, Question 16, “I was given a pistol years ago from a family member or friend and I do not know if it was transferred properly. How do I get the firearm in my name legally?” Boy, look at how that question is so awkwardly worded. After what I just told you, what do you think you should do if you were given a pistol years ago from a family member or friend? Well, if it was years ago, and it was over five years ago, should you register it? Hell no. No reason. Why? It doesn’t do anything for you. It doesn’t fix a thing. It’s not necessary. Is your possession legal? Yeah, I just explained why. But what do the State Police say on their website? It says, “To legally take possession of that firearm you must take it to a licensed retail firearm dealer in New Jersey . . . ” Really? Really? To legally take possession of it, but you’ve had it for years, you already are possessing it. You’re not taking possession of it. “To legally take possession”, meaning to legally acquire it. You already unlawfully acquired it, and you can’t unring that bell. You already unlawfully acquired it. Do you think that you can just go around unlawfully acquiring firearms, and bring them to a dealer and make your acquisition legal? You are just incriminating yourself by going to the dealer. Now it goes into their A&D books.
Evan Nappen 12:06
Is it over five years or not? Why are you doing this? Well, the State Police say it. To legally take possession, you must take it to a licensed dealer and request that the firearm be transferred back to you after all the proper paperwork is complete. Why do you need paperwork completed? You already possess it. The handgun purchase permit only allows for acquisition. That’s it. Your acquisition. Nothing else. You already had acquired it. It was illegally acquired, but so what? It’s got a five year clock ticking on it. Your possession is legal by exemption. Let’s say you do this. You get that permit, and you do what it says right there. Now it’s “registered in your name”. That’s what they say. Registered in your name. Yeah, who cares if it is registered in your name? How do you possess that registered handgun? How do you possess it? By way of the same damn exemption that you possessed it before you registered it! Get it? The same exemption applies, whether your gun is registered or not registered. Either way, you’re exempt. So, why are you registering it ? Other than to self-incriminate and put yourself on a stupid useless list that may even become the means and the basis of confiscation or worse. So, folks, don’t be committing a GOFU when it comes to registration in New Jersey.
Evan Nappen 13:56
The folks that help us every day in fighting these ridiculous laws is the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. They have a full-time paid lobbyist in Trenton, standing guard and alerting us to any of their shenanigans down there. They’re currently litigating in federal court, challenging the so-called assault firearm ban and the so-called large capacity magazine ban. Well, we prefer to call them the modern sporting rifle ban and the standard capacity magazine ban. They’re also fighting the Carry Killer bill, which is limiting our ability to carry, you know, under the guise of a “gun safety law”, which we all Page – 4 – of 7
know is a gun safety lie. Because that’s all these bills and laws are. Lies! Lies using safety to go at us. And so, the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol clubs is there, seeing through these lives, and fighting for our rights. You need to be part of the solution. Join anjrpc.org. Be a member, get email alerts and the greatest newsletter on gun rights in New Jersey. Be a part of it. You’ll be glad you did. When we come back, I have more fascinating things to talk to you about in New Jersey.
Speaker 3 15:36
For over 30 years, Attorney Evan Nappen has seen what rotten laws do to good people. That’s why he’s dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of America’s gun owners. A fearsome courtroom litigator, fighting for rights, justice, and freedom. An unrelenting gun rights spokesman tearing away at anti-gun propaganda to expose the truth. Author of six bestselling books on gun rights including Nappen on Gun Law, a bright orange gun law Bible that sits atop the desk of virtually every lawyer, police chief, firearms dealer, and savvy gun owner. That’s what made Evan Nappen America’s Gun Lawyer. Gun laws are designed to make you a criminal. Don’t become the innocent victim of a vicious anti-gun legal system. This is the guy you want on your side. Keep his name and number in your wallet and hope you never have to use it. But if you live, work, or travel with a firearm, the deck is already stacked against you. You can find him on the web at EvanNappen.com or follow the link on the Gun Lawyer resource page. Evan Nappen – America’s Gun Lawyer.
Speaker 3 16:50
You’re listening to Gun Lawyer with Attorney Evan Nappen. Available wherever you get your favorite podcast.
Evan Nappen 17:06
Welcome back to Gun Lawyer. This is Evan Nappen, who is looking forward to enjoying some shooting at WeShoot, which is an indoor range in Lakewood, New Jersey. They are a sponsor of the show, and they are just great. If you guys have not been to WeShoot, why not treat yourself and go to the indoor range in Lakewood. Conveniently right off the Parkway. You can get top line training. You can get guns, ammo, and accessories. They have it all, and they are wonderful folks to deal with. They will treat you like family. Check out WeShoot. And let me say if you are a former member of the Shooters Sporting Center in Little Egg Harbor that is closed to the public now. Unfortunately, they sold out to believe another private entity government entity that won’t have it open to the public. If you now have lost your membership there, WeShoot has a special deal for you. WeShoot will give you a free membership at WeShoot for the balance of your membership from Shooters at no charge, at no charge. So, if you had a Shooters membership, go to WeShoot. Go there for free using the balance of your Shooter’s membership. You’ll see what a great facility it is, and you’ll still be able to have a place to shoot. So, take advantage of that. It’s a great offer and a great deal. You’ll also be able to get your training there. It’s where I got my certification. So did my brother and my son for their carry permit qualification course and training. You can get that there. They’ll take care of you. Everybody I know goes there. They love it. It really is a great resource that you should take advantage of. Check out weshootusa.com.
Evan Nappen 19:22
By the way, you need to get my book, New Jersey Gun Law. If you do not have it, you’re missing out. New Jersey Gun Law is the Bible of New Jersey gun law. It is the book used by everybody; you name Page – 5 – of 7
it. Judges, lawyers, police and gun owner after gun owner. It is one of the only ways that you can get an understanding of the gun laws at your fingertips. I wrote it in a question and answer format. Over 120 topics. Over 500 pages. Ask anybody who has the book. They use it all the time. If you need to get your copy, go to EvanNappen.com. That’s my website, EvanNappen.com. See the big orange book there? Click it and order it. You’ll have it in a matter of days.
Evan Nappen 20:11
So, we were talking about registration, and I wanted to follow up with another thing about registration. It’s yet another question on the State Police website. (https://www.nj.gov/njsp/firearms/firearms-faqs.shtml) Some of these FAQs can be helpful. You know, if you rely on the FAQs, because it’s an official statement by the Government, it’s actually a defense at law called ignorance or mistake of law when you rely on an official statement. So, one of the things that I think is very useful that people do ask about is Question 23. Part of the advice that they’re giving here is again, in my opinion, not correct. Here’s what they say. I like the first part of it. It says, “I found a gun in house/storage unit I purchased.” So, you buy a house or you buy a storage unit, and you find a gun in it. These things happen. “What do I do? Can I keep it?”
Evan Nappen 21:14
The State Police say, if you do not wish to keep the firearm, you can voluntarily surrender it. Yeah, there’s a statute, N.J.S. 2C:39-12 (Voluntary Surrender). You give notice, and you can surrender the gun to the police. But if you decide to keep the firearm, this is what the State Police say, “provided it is Jersey compliant (i.e. not an assault weapon) . . . ” “Assault weapon”. Oh, excuse me, they called it an “assault weapon”. Well, you would think the State Police would know that we don’t have assault weapons in Jersey. We have assault firearms. That’s the actual legal terminology, assault firearm. But they said, as long as it’s not an assault weapon, I don’t even know what they’re talking about there, because Jersey doesn’t have such a thing. But, anyway, “. . . it may be kept, sold or destroyed according to” and here’s a site that the State Police reference, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-72, which is the law for “Disposal of remaining personal property abandoned by a tenant. To properly register a found pistol, the firearm should be turned over to a licensed gun dealer in New Jersey and you must obtain a Pistol Purchase Permit (See #2) which will be utilized to register the pistol in the state.”
Evan Nappen 22:33
Oh, gosh, okay. So, apparently, the State Police say you can keep it under the abandoned property, under this disposal of remaining property, abandoned property by tenants. So, it’s great that they recognize your ability to keep abandoned property. That’s good. But the part about having to turn it over to a dealer and get a permit for it and all that? Well, that doesn’t make sense because you already possess it. So, why are you getting a permit for it? If you’re able to keep it when you find it, then that means the State Police are what? Telling you that your acquisition is okay under the very law that they’re citing, if some tenant left a gun and they abandoned it. They said, well, it’s disposal property, it’s yours. So, if it’s already yours, why is it registration? Why is there any of that required at all? It just comes down to, are you possessing it under the exemptions the same way you would possess a registered gun under the exemptions? So, why is this necessary under law? Where does this come from? Again, registration is voluntary for residents, voluntary. The registration component of a pistol purchase permit is for acquisition in the state from a dealer or another individual when you’re making Page – 6 – of 7
that acquisition. Here they’re saying acquisition of abandoned property, which you’ve already made that acquisition because you found it, you have it, you acquired it, you got it. There’s no registration for that. That’s not how it works. But they’re trying to say here that you need to do a pistol purchase permit and bring it to a dealer what based on what? Now look, if you want to follow what they say there, then you can. You’re free to, of course. And if you do, then that is a defense arguably in and of itself. If you’re nervous about it, you can follow what they say because that’s a defense at law. It’s ignorance or mistake of law when you follow what is stated by those officials empowered to make such statements. And if you follow that and it ends up that they were wrong, well you’re covered because you followed what the State Police suggested, actually stated. They didn’t suggest. They stated it.
Evan Nappen 24:53
Now, I have a letter here, and this letter is from, let’s see, what’s the name? I don’t see a name in this letter. Well, we’ll skip the name. It says, hi. I see why they don’t have a name. It says hi. I’m currently 18 years old, I want to get a firearm after I finish my four years of college in May, I attend a college in Boston, Massachusetts, but my home state is New Jersey. I brought myself to a hospital after an attempted suicide in Boston. At the hospital in Boston, I was medically cleared in a few days. Then involuntary committed for the 72 hour period, which I signed papers to be released at the end. My official diagnosis listed on my release papers is an adjustment disorder. Does this permanently restrict me from owning a firearm federally and state specifically in New Jersey? As I know this will be asked in the application if I was ever in a mental institution?
Evan Nappen 26:01
The answer to that is yes. It causes all sorts of problems. We have federal law, and we have state law. Federal law prohibits those that have had an involuntary mental health commitment. Now this involuntary mental health commitment that you had that started out as a voluntary mental health commitment is most likely going to be a disqualifier, though there is some case law that talks about the emergency evaluation, etc. Maybe federally given case law, we’d have to look carefully, but most likely, and I don’t know the exact specifics of your stay, but it sounds to me like you qualify for an involuntary mental health commitment. And if that’s the case, that is both a federal and New Jersey state prohibitor. Now, the only way to get your rights back, if you’ve had an involuntary mental health commitment, is by way of expungement. Federal law recognizes expungement and so does state law. But you have to get an expungement from the state where it occurred. I don’t know if Massachusetts offers such a thing. Many states do not. New Hampshire, for example, does not offer mental health expungement. So, if you’ve had a mental health commitment there, you cannot get it expunged.
Evan Nappen 27:25
Now New Jersey goes even further and says anybody that’s had a voluntary or involuntary commitment is now a prohibited person. So, even if your commitment in Boston was voluntary, New Jersey would still require that you get an expungement. The problem is does Massachusetts offer expungement, no less for involuntary commitments, but even for voluntary commitments? And it’s few enough states even offer for involuntary. I don’t even know which ones offer for voluntary. So, if you check yourself into a mental health hospital outside New Jersey, you’re risking burning yourself out of getting and having a New Jersey gun permit at all, getting licensed in New Jersey at all, because of a voluntary commitment in a state that you cannot get expunged. If you have it in New Jersey, there at least is a Page – 7 – of 7
mechanism for removing that disqualifier in New Jersey, which is by getting an expungement. But out of state, it gets even worse. Many of these states, like I said, don’t even have expungement. I don’t know if Massachusetts has it at all for mental health.
Evan Nappen 28:41
This is a problem that’s growing because so many people have been disenfranchised of their Second Amendment rights simply because they got mental health treatment and help. It doesn’t mean that they’re a danger to anybody. But without having a restoration process or rights relief process, people can’t get the rights back. You know, it becomes easier for a convicted felon to get an expungement than somebody who’s had a mental health commitment, even a voluntary commitment, to get their record cleared, so that they can regain their Second Amendment rights. It’s really an injustice and it’s wrong. States need to address this and need to put a relief mechanism in there so that disenfranchised individuals can get their rights restored. As far as the individual here that is having this issue, having gone to Massachusetts, you need to see what Massachusetts offers in way of mental health expungement so you can try to clear your mental health record, which is a blemish on your reputation and causes a disenfranchisement of your Second Amendment rights. This is Evan Nappen reminding you that gun laws don’t protect honest citizens from criminals. They protect criminals from honest citizens.
Speaker 3 30:10
Gun Lawyer is a Counter Think Media production. The music used in this broadcast was managed by Cosmo Music, New York, New York. Reach us by emailing Evan@gun.lawyer. The information and opinions in this broadcast do not constitute legal advice. Consult a licensed attorney in your state.