On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County.
Dreier and Stern. The opinion of the court was delivered by Dreier, J.A.D.
Defendant Township of Dover appeals from a Law Division order directing the issuance of a handgun permit to plaintiff after the Township's Chief of Police denied the permit.
The sole basis for the issuance of the permit was plaintiff's statement that he carried large sums of money and jewelry from his place of business in Ocean County to a secondary place of business, a repair shop he operated in Bergen County. He claimed that he was unable to obtain insurance and needed the handgun for protection. The chief of police determined that under N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4c there was no "justifiable need" for defendant to be granted the requested permit, even on a limited basis. On reapplication and after a hearing de novo in the Law Division pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4d, the trial judge granted the permit "restricted to use solely when transporting jewelry and/or large amounts of cash to and from North Jersey and [applicant's] place of business."
N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4 basically recodified the now-repealed N.J.S.A. 2A:151-44, 44.1, 44.2, and 45. The standard of the repealed N.J.S.A. 2A:151-44 was a "need" for the weapon, rather than the present standard of "justifiable need." Reference to the report of the New Jersey Criminal Law Revision Commission indicates that the present sections were intended basically to restate the repealed statutes which were "carried forward without substantial change." 2 Final Report of the New Jersey Criminal Law Revision Commission (October 1971) at
370. The Supreme Court interpreted the predecessor statute in three companion cases. Application of " X ", supra, Siccardi v. State, 59 N.J. 545 (1971) and Reilly v. State, 59 N.J. 559 (1971). In Application of " X " the applicant was denied a handgun permit notwithstanding a showing that he carried loose diamonds on his person between his New York office and New Jersey home and on trips between his home or office to his customers' places of business. The Court found that the situations faced by the applicant did "not differ materially from those confronting many businessmen and others who carry substantial funds on their persons, often in high crime areas." 59 N.J. at 534.
In Siccardi v. State the manager of a local movie theater contended that he was required to carry substantial sums of money from the theater to a nearby bank depository in the late evening hours and that the theater was within the perimeter of the area of a recent civil disorder in Plainfield. Further, there had been numerous incidents involving beatings and robberies in the immediate area of the theater and the applicant had received numerous telephone threats and his life had been threatened by persons confronting him at the theater and on the street. The Supreme Court noted that the word "'need' is a flexible term which must be read and applied in the light of the particular circumstances and the times." 59 N.J. at 555. The Court further explained that the Assignment Judges had designated a single judge in each county as the issuing authority under the statute in
The Court then noted that there were suitable alternatives to the applicant carrying a gun and that it accepted the local police
chief's view that the threats were not serious in nature and did not call for any police action.
The grant of a permit to him to carry a concealed handgun on his person or in his automobile would, as all of the expert testimony indicates, afford hardly any measure of self-protection and would involve him in the known and ...