FORFEITURE/SEIZURE OF FIREARMS
LOOPHOLES & PITFALLS:
Frequently you hear of proposed legislation to allow the State to sell firearms that it has seized. Although no firearm enthusiast likes to see firearms being destroyed, it would be a serious mistake to support this type of legislation. If the State were allowed to sell forfeited firearms, it would provide new financial incentive and encourage even more seizure and forfeiture of law-abiding citizens’ firearms!
It is important to maintain good records of firearms that one possesses. These records should be maintained in a separate location from the firearms themselves. These records may avoid firearms becoming “lost” or “unaccounted for.” It is also a good idea to keep on hand protective firearm covers such as “silicone socks,” which are treated with silicone to prevent rust and are available at most gun shops. Many gun cases will promote rust if firearms are stored for a long period of time. If you fear forfeiture of your firearms, it is also important to have an attorney who is knowledgeable about firearms and New Jersey gun law to provide assistance when necessary.
Warning: The gun disqualifier of “having a firearm seized but not returned” was enacted into law in 2004. Yet the state has failed to include questioning about this disqualifier on its gun permit applications and “Certificates of Eligibility” (for long arm transfers.) This sets a trap for the unwary to unlawfully possess firearms. Not only could you be denied your permit but you could be prosecuted as well. Your gun rights are revoked upon the mere seizure of your firearms. It is important to pursue and succeed at a hearing to return your seized firearms, because only the return of your guns will guarantee restoration of your gun rights. In other words, your rights are attached to your guns. If you have ever had a “firearm seized but not returned” (even sold to dealer instead of being returned), you are in danger of prosecution for gun purchase, possession, ownership or control.
Have the NJ State Police failed to fix the forms to keep folks in the dark so that they don’t fight to get their guns returned? If people knew about this law many would NOT simply agree to have their seized guns sold to a dealer, transferred to a third party, or forfeited to the State. Then, the prosecutors and the courts would have to do lot more hearings for gun returns. (Note: prosecutors and the judges are under no legal obligation tell the unsuspecting former gun owners that their gun rights will be lost by making such a deal with the State.)
No other state has such a law. However, it is the law in NJ. Until it is repealed, many gun owners are failing to insist upon the return of their seized guns and prohibited persons are unknowingly acquiring guns. Maybe that is the plan all along?