Many concerned law-abiding gun owners, especially those who live in the city, desire the lawful ability to carry a handgun for self-protection in New Jersey. The two most populated cities in New Jersey are Newark and Jersey City.  Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible for an honest citizen to obtain a carry permit anywhere in the state. New Jersey has almost 9 million residents yet has only issued less than 600 carry permits to civilians. However, city dwellers still have a right to self-defense in their homes.

Justified Self-Defense & Deadly Force

There are complex legal issues that arise in using a firearm for self-defense. “Self-defense” under New Jersey law is known as “justification.” Justification deals with the justified use of force.

“Deadly force” is justifiable if the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to protect oneself against death or serious bodily harm. “Deadly force” may not be used if: (a) the actor with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily harm provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter; (b) the actor knows that he may avoid the necessity of using such force by retreating or surrendering possession of a thing to a person asserting a claim to it; or (c) by complying with the demand that he abstain from doing something which he has no obligation to do.

“Deadly force” means force used by an actor with the purpose or knowledge of creating or causing substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm. Purposely firing a firearm in the direction of another or at a vehicle, building, or structure in which another person is believed to be constitutes “deadly force.” Please note, however, that a “threat” to cause death or serious bodily harm by the production of a weapon or otherwise does not constitute deadly force if an actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary.

Your Home Is Your Best Place of Defense

Under New Jersey law, a person is not required to retreat from his dwelling unless he was the initial aggressor or is assailed in his dwelling by another person whose dwelling the actor knows it to be. The use of deadly force toward an intruder who is unlawfully in a dwelling is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that the force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself or other persons in the dwelling against the use of unlawful force by the intruder at that same time.

No matter where the actual use of deadly force occurred, or under what circumstances it occurred, never follow the common folklore myth of planting a weapon in the hands or near the intruder. You also should not carry or move the body anywhere or in any way disturb the scene of the incident.

For any questions regarding firearm laws in the State of New Jersey, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.


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The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.