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The Gun Control Law imposes a bar to obtaining a gun permit when a firearm seized in a domestic violence matter is not returned for a reason set forth in the Domestic Violence Forfeiture Statute

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December 23, 2008 at 5:46 am


M.S. v. Millburn Police Department, 197 N.J. 236 (2008) (Albin, J.; A-80-07; Decided December 23, 2008):

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Picture by dno1967

The Gun Control Law [N.J.S.A. 2C:58-1 to -18], i.e., N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(8), imposes a statutory bar to obtaining a gun permit only when a firearm seized in a domestic violence matter is not returned for a reason set forth in the Domestic Violence Forfeiture Statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21(d)(3) [Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35)].

N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c) provides: “No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued: . . . (8) To any person whose firearm is seized pursuant to the ‘Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,’ and whose firearm has not been returned.”

Clearly, the Legislature did not intend to prohibit the issuance of a firearms card under N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(8) because a firearm was not returned due to sheer fortuity, e.g., a fire destroying the area where weapons are impounded. A commonsense reading of the statute requires that N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(8)’s bar to the issuance of a firearms card be due to some fault of plaintiff

Only when a person’s firearm is seized pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 and “has not been returned” for a reason articulated in the Domestic Violence Forfeiture Statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21(d)(3), is that person permanently barred from obtaining a firearms card. That is the only sensible interpretation of N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(8) and the only interpretation that is fully consistent with what the Legislature must have intended. Therefore, under N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(8), the reason for not returning a firearm could be established by proving any ground in support of a forfeiture at a proceeding conducted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21(d)(3) or by an admission made by a plaintiff in a consent judgment.






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