One of the most disturbing home invasion cases occurred on July 23, 2007 in Cheshire, CT when two psychopaths broke into the home of Dr. William Petit. The perpetrators brutally attacked Dr. Petit with a baseball bat, raped his wife and one 11 year old daughter, strangled his wife, tied both daughters to their beds, doused all three victims with gasoline and set the house on fire. Only Dr. Petit survived. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheshire,_Connecticut,_home_invasion_murders if you have the stomach to read the details.
Stories like this, and reports of burglaries in town, have motivated many to consider purchasing a firearm for home self-defense. It should be clear that authorities cannot be everywhere at all times. The common wisdom is that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. So once you decide to accept the tremendous responsibilty of owning a firearm, how do you legally go about purchasing it?
First, you must meet certain statuatory requirements. For example, if you have ever been convicted of a felony, adjudicated mentally defective or convicted of domestic violence, you would be automatically disqualified.
Your next step is to obtain the required Form STS-33 "Application for a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card" (NJFID) from the Maplewood Police Department. The form requests the names and addresses of two non-relatives who can act as personal references. You will also need Form SP-66 "Consent for Mental Health Records Search" and Form SBI-212A "Request for Criminal History Record." If you wish to purchase a long arm (shotgun or rifle) only a NJFID card is required. But purchasing a handgun requires an additional "Pistol Puchase Permit and Form of Register." The Form STS-33 serves a dual purpose as an "Application to Purchase a Handgun" so decide what you intend to buy before submitting the final paperwork.
Third, you must arrange to be digitally fingerprinted at Morpho Trak, a private company that is authorized to perform this function for state and local government agencies. The closest location to Maplewood is in Irvington. See https://www.bioapplicant.com/Default.aspx for forms, fees and directions.
Fourth, hurry up and wait. Although state law madates that townships must respond to firearms applications within 30 days, most seldom do. However, in my experience, Maplewood is pretty good in completing the paperwork fairly quickly.
Fifth, once the criminal background and mental health records searchs have been delivered to the Police Department from Trenton, the Chief of Police will sign the pistol purchase permits and notify you to come to their office to pick them up along with your NJFID card. Don't forget to bring a money order. Afterall, this is New Jersey and there are fees for everything. It is a good idea to get your NJFID laminated since it will see lots of wear. And if you ever change addresses, you must notify the police within 30 days and apply for a new card.
Finally, if the above were not enough, you now have to decide which type, make and model firearm to buy and locate a dealer from whom to purchase it. This takes a lot more doing, to do it right, than can be explained in a blog post. But you have to make a purchase decison fairly quickly because your purchase permit is only good for 90 days after which it may be renewed for a second 90 day period. After the final 90 day period expires, the permit is void and you must start the entire application process from scratch.
I strongly encourage anyone who intends on buying a firearm to obtain NRA certfied training first. The information you will learn is critical to making the right purchase decision, and to avoid becoming ensnared and entrapped in draconian, illogical and purposefully obfuscating New Jersey fireams regulations.
Matt Carmel is president of Constitution Arms in Maplewood. He is a federal and state licensed firearms dealer and manufacturer. He is also an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and teaches the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Safety Orientation class. His website is www.constitutionarms.com and can be reached at 973-378-8011.