⭕ New Jersey has seen a surge in gun permit applications

⭕ The increase could delay the permit process

⭕ Simple mistakes could result in your application being rejected

New Jersey has streamlined the process for obtaining both a Firearms ID card as well as a permit to purchase a handgun. Nearly the entire process can now be done online.

However, a number of New Jersey 101.5 listeners have complained of long wait times and rejected applications that have to be refiled.

To find out why this might be happening, I went to one of the foremost experts on the permitting process to try and get some answers.

Rich Dugan is the former Chief of Police in Barnegat Township. Now retired, he serves as the department’s Chief Firearms Investigator.

Everybody wanted a handgun or an ID card during the pandemic.  That fell off a little bit after COVID, but there's been a recent pick up again. – Firearms Investigator Rich Dugan

New Jersey is seeing a surge in applications, Dugan says, likely due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“People want to protect themselves, Dugan says, “People want to feel safe and have some protection.”

Dugan says there was a slight drop in applications after the pandemic ended, but during COVID, he says it was “crazy.”

“Everybody wanted a handgun or an ID card during the pandemic, Dugan says, “That fell off a little bit after COVID, but there's been a recent pick up again.”

The increase in the volume of applications can contribute to delays in processing applications. Dugan says many departments are also short staffed, which can lead to more delays.

Keep reading to find out what to expect when applying for a permit and the most common mistakes people make that can result in an application being rejected.

If your application is rejected, you can resubmit, but you will have to pay another filing fee.

How are Firearms ID cards and Handgun Permits processed?

The application process begins with the Firearms Application and Registration System (FARS) on the New Jersey State Police website.

Even though the application process has been centralized, it is the local police department in the town where you live that conducts the background check and either approves or rejects your application.

Each police department in New Jersey is assigned what is known as an ORI number.

You will need to know that number and include it on your application. It must match the township listed on your ID, or you application can be rejected.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Then comes the review

Once submitted, a member of the police department will begin the background review.

Depending on what is found on your background report, the review officer will either make a recommendation to the Police Chief or request more information.

Once the review is done, the investigating officer will recommend to the Police Chief to either approve or reject the application.

It is, ultimately, up to the Chief to make the final decision about approval.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

What is my Firearms ID card good for?

Firearms Investigator Rich Dugan says “you're required to have a firearms ID card in order to purchase a rifle or a shotgun in New Jersey or to purchase ammunition.”

You will also need your Firearms ID card to apply for a permit to purchase a handgun.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Handgun permits are separate?


New Jersey requires you to make a separate application to purchase a handgun. This application process is begun on the same FARS portal on the New Jersey State Police website, but they are also processed by your local police department.

What about a permit for concealed carry in New Jersey?

The application process also starts with the State Police.

The link to the concealed carry portal can be found HERE.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Using a gun to defend yourself: New Jersey has very specific rules about the use of deadly force.  Click to read more

What do I need to file my application?

Both the State Police and local department websites list what you need to complete your application.

Dugan says you can also call your local department to make sure you have all the information they will need to process your application.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

How long will it take to get my Firearms ID card, handgun permit or concealed carry permit in New Jersey?

Under state regulations, departments are given 60-days to process permit applications.

There are exceptions, however.

Dugan says departments do have the right to call an applicant and ask for an extension if the background check is taking longer than expected.

This can often happen if the person’s background check doesn’t come back completely clean.

Dugan says, for example, if there is a DWI arrest, the department will need to see the police report from the incident, and getting that from another department can be delayed.

attachment-guns in new jersey

Even if an individual had charges dismissed in an arresting incident, the matter will still show up on a background report.

The firearms investigator will need to see the original police report to determine if the incident will disqualify someone from obtaining a permit.

“Just because somebody writes on their application that they've never been convicted of a crime,” Dugan says, “We still need to see a record of the incident to determine an individual’s permit status.”

If the incident is from many years ago, Dugan says that can slow the entire process as they seek records from other police departments.

What are the most common mistakes people make on their applications?

Dugan says “stupid little clerical stuff” are the most likely reasons an application is going to be rejected, so he urges people to be extra careful when filling it out online.

For example, “If you are a junior, you have to list you're a junior,” Dugan says, “If not, we have to kick that back because it’s not your legal name.”

You can, of course, refile the application once the error is corrected, but you have to pay you filling fee again.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Other common mistakes:

⭕ Listing the wrong social security number

⭕ Not using the correct address (for example using “street” when it’s really “lane”)

⭕ Leaving sections blank

⭕ Not providing proper references

⭕ Failing to get fingerprinted (if needed)

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Your references are critical

You are required to list multiple references depending on what type of permit you are applying for.

Many applications are delayed because those references fail to complete their online questionnaire.

Dugan suggests you contact your references and let them know they will be getting a notice to fill out a questionnaire.

The notice typically comes in as an email, so also make sure your reference checks their spam filter if they didn’t get a notice.

The best advice?

Don’t rush when you fill out your application and recheck all data before you hit ‘submit.”

Dugan says, “Make sure that you take each box good and slow and you put the right information in there.”

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

He also recommends that you reach out to your local police department and ask them what they need. They don’t want to kick your application out, Dugan says, but they need complete accurate information in order to even begin the review process.

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