You just left the store with your brand-new gun when a thought crosses your mind: “do I need to register my gun?”

The answer is: no, and the Coronavirus has not changed this fact.

Firearm registration is only mandatory for the possession of “assault firearms” in New Jersey. While voluntary firearms registration exists, there is no reason to participate in it for the ordinary gun owner.

In addition, there has been no change to New Jersey’s firearm registration scheme due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Firearm Registration in New Jersey is still voluntary unless one is acquiring a handgun in New Jersey with a Handgun Purchase Permit which is the official “Form of Register.”

However, if you’ve been a resident of only New Jersey, and subject to only their jurisdiction your entire adult life, when the provenance of your firearms is ever challenged or questioned, you should be able to show how you lawfully acquired and possessed those guns under New Jersey law (except for cases of inheritance). This means completed and valid Certificates of Eligibility for long guns, and properly executed Pistol Purchase Permits for your handguns.

Inheritance of Firearms

In cases of inheritance, you must be able to show that the guns were lawfully transferred to you by will or if there is no will, by the intestacy statute. In cases of intestacy, or you are not the next beneficiary in line to inherit, taking possession of the guns would be an unlawful firearms transfer under the statute.

Example: Dad passes away; survived by Mom and son. There is no will and the guns are not of interest to Mom who also does not have a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (“FPIC”). Whereas son went hunting with Dad often and does have his own card and firearms.

It is unlawful for Mom to simply pass dad’s guns on to her son. Mom is the lawful inheritor of the guns, even without an FPIC, and must follow all the formalities of a lawful firearms transfer if the son wants the guns, including: FPIC, Certificates of Eligibility, and Pistol Purchase Permits for handguns.

However, Mom could file a disclaimer that essentially gives up her rights to any of dad’s inheritance, and the son, if the next beneficiary in line, can then lawfully obtain dad’s guns without any paperwork. Additionally, if the widowed mom wishes to pass the guns to a non-relative (like a neighborhood hunting buddy), an FFL must be involved in the firearms transfer. Fiduciary powers have no relevance under New Jersey law, so these are the only ways to transfer firearms in cases of intestacy.

Paper Trail of Provenance

In sum, all handguns should be able to prove their provenance through a paper trail of some kind; either the Pistol Purchase Permit that enabled the in-state acquisition, the will or death certificate to prove inheritance, or proof that you were an adult resident of another state, during which you could have lawfully acquired the firearm outside of New Jersey’s jurisdiction and requirements. For long guns, you should be able to provide a Certificate of Eligibility (including a receipt from the FFL that performed the transfer after October 2018). Out-of-state firearms transfers should be accompanied by a copy of the ATF Form 4473 indicating the FFL that completed the transfer, as an unlicensed individual is prohibited from directly transferring a firearm to a person residing in another state.

If you have any questions, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with an Independent Program Attorney.