The "Citizens' Protection Act," revises and simplifies the procedures for securing a permit to carry a handgun in the State of New Jersey.
Under the provisions of the bill, an applicant for a permit to carry a handgun would be entitled to that permit so long as he can demonstrate competence with a firearm and is not statutorily disqualified. To demonstrate that competence, the applicant would be required to include, as part of his application for the permit, copy indicating his successful completion of a firearms safety or training course or class offered by a law enforcement agency, an educational institution, the military, or the National Rifle Association. An applicant who holds a permit to carry is deemed competent and need not submit such evidence.
Among the disqualifications set forth in the bill are the statutory disabilities which currently prohibit an individual from obtaining either a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card: A crime involving controlled substances; a condition involving chronic and habitual alcoholic or drug abuse; or some other physical or mental condition or disease which would make it unsafe for the individual to obtain a permit to carry a handgun.
The bill also extends the term during which a permit to carry remains valid. At present, a permit to carry remains valid for two years; under this bill, a permit would be valid for five years.
Finally, the bill deletes subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:39-2 which provided that with regard to any firearm permit or license, an individual was deemed to be in violation of the law "until he establishes the contrary." This approach is inconsistent with traditional American legal jurisprudence and, therefore, should be ended.
In its current form, the law governing the issuance of permits to carry a handgun requires an applicant to demonstrate to the Superior Court a justifiable need" in order to obtain such a permit. The court's interpretation of what constitutes a "justifiable need" makes it virtually impossible for citizens of New Jersey to obtain permits to carry.
For the reasons stated above, and because the fundamental right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, we petition the Legislature of the State of New Jersey to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.