This forum has been very quiet lately and I know there are people out there from NJ, so I figured I'd get a thread started to address current state laws, law changes and news about possible new proposals.
If your moving to NJ or you are not familiar with the Firearms laws here, the first thing you need to know is that the State of NJ is a registration state. Meaning that when you purchase a handgun, the make, model and serial # are registered with 3 places. The gun store that you purchased from, your local Police Department and the NJ State Police. This is only done with handguns, NOT long guns or shotguns.
In order to make a purchase of a firearm, you must first obtain a NJ State Firearms ID Card (or also known as a FID). To get that, you need to go to your local PD and file the proper paperwork. It will usually take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks to get that back. The cost is regulated by State Statute and is currently $5.00. In most cases you need to make that payment via money order only. Call your local PD to find out how they want the payment, so as not to delay your process. The application also requires that you put down references of your character who must respond in writing to the investigating PD in order to complete the process.
Technically the statute reads that your permit applications must be processed within 30 days, but there are a lot of excuses that the PD's use to get around this and usually not because they care whether you have a gun or not. It is usually more because the process requires actions of a detective to complete and if the department does not have resources allocated specifically to FID processing (small PD don't have the man power), it unfortunately becomes a low priority under criminal investigations. Some people are not going to agree with my above statement, but it is what it is. My Police Department currently has one detective for 13 Patrol officers. You get the point. I suggest that when you fill out the application, you pick reliable references that live local to you, so that you can ensure that they respond in writing as quick as possible. That will help to avoid delays.
The FID card alone, will allow you to purchase long guns and shotguns within the State. There is no further waiting period or registration process for rifles and shotguns. MAKE SURE YOUR FID CARD IS CORRECTLY PRINTED with your current address (must be exactly the same as your drivers license). If you move, you must go to your new local PD and get the address changed or you will be turned down at the counter when trying to purchase.
If you are trying to purchase a handgun, you must further attain a pistol permit. You need a pistol permit for every handgun that you wish to purchase. You can apply for up to 3 pistol permits at a time and they are good for 90 days each. They are then renewable for a second 90 day period. The State regulated price for each pistol permit is $2 and again, the PD is required by statute to process the permit within 30 days. And again, it does not always happen that fast, but if your really wanted to fight the system you could bring the PD to court siting statute 2C:58-3(f)
Good luck with that... My suggestion is to make sure that you have your applications clearly and accurately filled out, again with references that are reliable and close to you so that you can stay on top of them. My practice has always been to get 3 permits each time I apply. You can't go wrong having too many and if they expire, they expire. No big deal and no harm done, your just out $2. However even if you only intend to buy one pistol, if you later come across that deal you can't refuse, you'll have one on hand and not have to wait for the process again. YOU DO NEED TO FOLLOW THE SAME PROCESS EVEN IF YOU ARE BUYING FROM A PRIVATE OWNER! The same form needs to be filled out, but you are responsible for returning copies of the pistol permit to the local PD rather than the dealer doing it for you after purchase.
Please keep in mind that none of the above process will eliminate the need for the NICS check that the dealer will perform at the time of purchase. You will still be required to pay for that process if your buying from a State Licensed dealer. A private purchase does not require a NICS check.