If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?
New Jersey state law says that a person cannot get a “handgun purchase permit” or a “firearms purchaser identification card” if:
- s/he was convicted of any “crime” (in other words, an “indictable offense,” which is referred to in other states as a felony);1
- s/he was convicted of a “disorderly persons offense” (referred to as a misdemeanor in other states) that involves an act of domestic violence, which includes any of the following crimes when committed against a family or household member:
- terroristic threats;
- criminal restraint
- false imprisonment
- criminal mischief
- criminal trespass
- sexual assault
- criminal sexual contact
- criminal coercion
- contempt of a domestic violence order (if it is considered to be a crime or disorderly persons offense)
- any other crime that involves risk of death or serious bodily injury;1
- as a juvenile, s/he was adjudicated delinquent for an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime and the offense involved the unlawful use or possession of a weapon or explosive/destructive device.2
In addition, it is a crime of the 2nd degree under New Jersey state law for anyone who was convicted of any of the following crimes, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the following crimes, to possess a firearm or ammunition:
- aggravated assault;
- aggravated sexual assault;
- sexual assault;
- bias intimidation;
- endangering the welfare of a child;
- gang criminality;
- terroristic threats;
- unlawful possession of a machine gun, handgun, or assault firearm;
- leader of firearms trafficking network;
- a crime involving domestic violence or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime involving domestic violence;
- certain drug crimes or an attempt or conspiracy to commit certain drug crimes (listed here in (b)(1));
- certain crimes involving possession of prohibited weapons and devices (listed here in (b)(1)).3
It is a crime of the 3rd degree under New Jersey state law for someone to possess a firearm or ammunition if:
- s/he was convicted of a disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence;
- s/he is subject to an extreme risk protection order;
- his/her firearm was seized (taken by police) pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act” and was not returned; or
- there is a court order prohibiting the possession of firearms issued pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act” (except this does not apply to law enforcement officers while on duty, or to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or member of the National Guard while on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty).4
Note: These convictions listed above do not necessarily have to have taken place in a New Jersey court. If the abuser was convicted of a similar crime in another state, territory, commonwealth or other jurisdiction of the United States, or even in any country in the world (if it was in a court of “competent jurisdiction”), the law would still apply.5
If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun. Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if s/he was convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 NJ Stat. §§ 2C:58-3(c); 2C:25-19(a)
2 NJ Stat. § 2C:58-3(c)
3 NJ Stat. § 2C:39-7(b)(1)
4 NJ Stat. § 2C:39-7(b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4)
5 NJ Stat. § 2C:39-7(c)
How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive firearms or explosives.1 However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.
To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?