Traveling in New Jersey With a Firearm: What You Should Know


Moving to a new state can be exciting. However, whether you moved for a new job, retire in a better location, help family or friends, or any other reason, your new area requires adjusting to a different environment, culture, and rules. Sure, you must change your driver’s license, car registration, and address, minor inconveniences, but you must also be aware of the laws in your new place. For example, if you move to New Jersey with a weapon, you should know in advance what the state requires of you to own, transport, and possess a gun. But even if you pass through New Jersey on your way to your destination, you should beware that the laws regarding carrying weapons in your vehicle are specific, and the punishment is severe if you violate them.

Can I Travel Through New Jersey With a Firearm?

If you own a firearm, you do not want to drive in the state of New Jersey without securing your handgun, rifle, or shotgun in your vehicle. You should know that your firearm must be empty and enclosed in a locked gun box or otherwise packed and tied up in the trunk of your car. In other words, no one should be able to get to the firearm or firearms without going to the trunk or unlocking a box or safe. The weapon must be unloaded, with any ammunition secured separately. So, a glove box is not secure enough for New Jersey law. If just passing through the state, what you need to do is follow the laws on transporting a firearm in a secured, inaccessible place in the car. Just passing through means no lengthy stays while on your way to another destination. Reasonable stops along the way to your destination to eat, use the restroom, or pick up immediate supplies are acceptable deviations from your route and will not get you in trouble for transporting a firearm through the state.

Not only NJ state law, but federal law (U.S.C. 926A) allows the transportation of firearms if the person possessing the firearms had them legally in the state where they acquired them and in the state where they end up. Those transporting firearms must not be convicted felons, substance abusers, illegal aliens, or mentally challenged. A dishonorable discharge from the military and relinquishment of one’s United States citizenship also disqualifies someone from transporting firearms. Finally, the guns must be transported for legal purposes, like recreation or protection. Transporting weapons to commit crime or distribute the weapons to those who intend to commit crime is an unlawful firearms transport.

What if I Move to New Jersey With a Gun?

Suppose you are staying in New Jersey for a time or relocating permanently. In that case, you must then apply for permits for all your firearms and maintain all appropriate licenses to purchase and/or carry the weapon in this state. Then, if you transport firearms within New Jersey, the law requires you to secure your weapons in your vehicle the same way as mentioned above. Some exceptions to the general rule against carrying a weapon without a handgun carry permit exist, meaning if you comply with the rules of transporting the firearm. They include: gun dealers and their employees conducting business; any firearm owner taking their new gun purchase home, bringing their weapon to their home or business, or bringing it to the repair shop; and gun club members going to the shooting range. Legal gun owners may also bring their guns to hunt or fish, or for recreational target practice and gun shows run by gun clubs or police organizations.

What Happens if You Transport a Weapon Illegally in NJ?

The police may arrest you for illegally transporting weapons if they stop you and discover the unsecured or loaded guns in your vehicle. So, if the police stop you for a traffic violation and have probable cause to search your vehicle or you give them consent, they may search your car. And if they find firearms improperly carried in the vehicle, you could be arrested and charged with a serious crime. It is very common for people coming to, or traveling through, New Jersey to end up being arrested and charged with a second degree or third degree crime for unlawful possession of a weapon, depending on the particular weapon involved. This is an all-too-regular occurrence for those who simply don’t know they can’t bring a weapon that they legally possess in another state to the state of NJ.

What Am I Facing for Illegally Possessing a Gun in My Vehicle in NJ?

Illegal possession of a handgun is a second degree crime, which could land you in prison for up to ten years. And unlawful possession of a rifle or shotgun is a third degree crime, as is unlawful possession of a BB gun or Air gun, a conviction for which you could face up to 5 years of imprisonment. If charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, you are facing the potential to spend a long time in prison. A sentencing judge assumes you will be incarcerated for a second degree crime unless you rebut the presumption of incarceration. On top of that, the Graves Act, designed to dissuade gun law violations, requires that those convicted of certain first and second degree gun crimes spend minimally 42 months in prison, or one-third to one-half of the prescribed sentence, before possible parole.

Need a Lawyer for Gun Charges From a Traffic Stop in Hudson County NJ

If the police find firearms in the car that are not properly secured and/or you are arrested for a gun that you don’t legally possess in New Jersey, you should get help from our experienced weapons defense attorneys as soon as possible. We defend clients charged with firearms and weapons offenses across the greater Hudson County area, including in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, Secaucus, Kearny, Union City, and Bayonne. To discuss your gun case with a Hudson County criminal defense lawyer who can advise and assist you further, contact our office in Jersey City at (201) 793-8018. You can reach out online as well to get a free consultation.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.