On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County, Docket No. W-09-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: December 15, 2010
Decided: Before Judges Cuff and Sapp-Peterson.
Applicant Robert Atkins appeals from the February 23, 2010 order denying his application for a permit to carry a firearm. Atkins is a fugitive recovery agent, bail bondsman, and repossession agent doing business in Sussex County.
On appeal, Atkins raises the following arguments:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT THE APPLICANT'S APPLICATION FOR A PERMIT TO CARRY A FIREARM UNDER N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4C BECAUSE HE HAS DEMONST[R]ATED A
"JUSTIFIABLE NEED" TO CARRY A FIREARM.
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT THE APPLICANT'S APPLICATION FOR A PERMIT TO CARRY A FIREARM UNDER N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4C BECAUSE MORE THAN SIXTY DAYS HAD LAPSED BETWEEN THE INITIAL APPLICATION AND THE DENIAL OF THE STATE POLICE.
Obtaining a permit to carry a gun "is the most closely-regulated aspect of gun-control laws." In re Preis, 118 N.J. 564, 568 (1990). The procedure for obtaining a permit to carry a handgun is controlled by N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4. As an initial step, an applicant must submit an application to the chief police officer of the municipality in which the applicant resides or to the superintendent if there is no chief police officer in the town where the applicant resides. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4c. Here, plaintiff submitted his application to the State Police Superintendent.
The criteria the police chief or superintendent must follow is outlined in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4c:
No application shall be approved by the chief police officer or the superintendent unless the applicant demonstrates that he is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in 2C:58-3c., that he is thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns, and that he has a justifiable need to carry a handgun.
The permit itself is issued by the Superior Court of the county in which the applicant resides. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4d. Under that subsection:
If the application has been approved by the chief police officer or the superintendent, as the case may be, the applicant shall forthwith present it to the Superior Court of the county in which the applicant resides. . . . The court shall issue the permit to the applicant if, but only if, it is satisfied that the applicant is a person of good character who is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in 2C:58-3c., that he is thoroughly familiar ...