In a published decision binding upon all New Jersey municipalities, the New Jersey Appellate Division has confirmed that New Jersey municipalities may NOT require added forms for firearm permit applications beyond the state forms.
May 14, 2015’s appellate decision, In the Matter of the Denial for a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card and Permit to Purchase a Handgun by Z.K., reversed a Middlesex County Superior Court Judge that affirmed an East Brunswick permit denial because the applicant refused to complete an added municipal form.
While the added municipal form at issue in Z.K. was, for the most part, duplicative of questions asked about juvenile delinquencies on the state form, the higher court found that East Brunswick’s additional form was nonetheless contrary to the plain meaning of two sections of the licensing statute.
One licensing statute section (N.J.S. 2C:58-3e) specifies that ONLY the New Jersey Superintendent of State Police may prescribe the permit form. Another section states:
“There shall be no conditions or requirements added to the form or content of the application, or required by the licensing authority for the issuance of a permit or identification card, other than those that are specifically set forth in this chapter.” (N.J.S. 2C:58-3f.)
Despite these provisions, over the years municipalities across New Jersey have routinely violated the above laws by adding wrongful paperwork and requirements to the licensing process. The present published Z.K. decision is the first case on this topic that is binding upon all New Jersey municipalities and licensing authorities.
Last year, two unpublished Appellate Division decisions overturned other municipalities that added forms or conditions to the State application process. In IMO Perez Paterson’s requirement that all applicants supply a passport photo was struck down as unlawful. In IMO McGovern, Jersey City’s requirement of several pages of added forms and certifications were struck down as unlawful. Both Perez and McGovern, however, were not “published” and, therefore – while informative to other police departments regarding how they should behave – the decisions were only officially binding upon those two cities.
Both Perez and the present Z.K. matters were funded in part by the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.
All three appeals –Perez, Z.K. and McGovern, – were handled by the law firm of Evan F. Nappen, Attorney at Law PC, and argued upon briefs written by Louis P. Nappen, Esq.
In response to the Z.K. decision, Louis Nappen said, “All New Jersey residents should be treated equally under the law and with equal Due Process. I’m glad that the Appellate Division recognized my arguments and did something positive to stop the rogue behaviors of licensing authorities.”
This is also an important development because the Superintendent of State Police has recently proposed Administrative Code that would violate State Law in a similar manner.
Evan Nappen further stated, “A message has finally been sent loud and clear for cities and towns to obey New Jersey gun law. The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs has previously put all towns on notice regarding this issue by way of their operation ‘Permitting StrikeForce TM.’Now, municipalities that continue to break the law will face consequences.”