During stressful and uncertain times, people often turn to weapons for protection. Guns make them feel safe. As the coronavirus continues to affect the lives of people around the world, more and more people are purchasing firearms, ammunition and accessories.

Although they were not initially deemed essential, on March 16, the Department of Homeland Security added gun dealers, ranges and manufacturers to the list of essential businesses that can operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who cannot purchase a weapon?

New Jersey continues to enforce its firearm regulations as dealers re-open their stores. The gun laws in New Jersey are some of the most stringent in the United States. In fact, according to a study by Giffords Law Center, California is the only state with more strict gun laws than New Jersey.

With the rise of gun purchases, residents may want to be aware of the restrictions in place. Some gun restrictions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A person must be 18 years old or older to buy or use a firearm; they must be at least 21 years old to possess a handgun
  • A person needs the necessary permits for a rifle or shotgun purchase and a separate permit approved by a police chief for a handgun purchase
  • A person must pass a background check through a licensed gun dealer to have a gun transferred to them
  • A person cannot buy or possess a gun if they have a criminal conviction on their record, have been committed for a mental disorder or they are on the terror watchlist

Even with the restrictions in New Jersey, 80% of firearms involved in murder cases are out-of-state purchases. Being in possession of an unregistered firearm or having a gun after a criminal conviction can result in felony charges.  In New Jersey, gun offenses carry mandatory prison sentences pursuant to the Graves Act, even for first-time offenders.