On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and Fasciale.
Harry Barbosa appeals from a Law Division order which upheld the denial of his application for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC) and Permit to Purchase a Handgun. We affirm.
In August 2009, Barbosa submitted an application for a FPIC and permit to purchase a handgun to the Police Department of the Township of Haledon, which conducted an investigation of the matter. On October 19, 2009, Sergeant Mohammad Abaza notified Barbosa that his application was denied because Barbosa failed to appeal a previous denial from the Passaic Police Department of a similar application in 2005. Sergeant Abaza stated in his October 19 letter that "[g]ranting your requests for Firearms Permits would [be] tantamount to a judicial reversal of the Passaic P.D. decision." Barbosa appealed from the denial by the Haledon Police Department to the Law Division, which conducted an evidentiary hearing on the appeal.
The Law Division judge considered various exhibits and testimony from Sergeant Abaza, Deputy Chief Kevin Gottheiner, and Barbosa. Sergeant Abaza testified that the application was denied for two reasons. First, Barbosa acted carelessly when he failed to timely report that a previously-owned gun was missing. Second, Barbosa did not appeal the 2005 denial of a similar application to the Passaic Police Department. The sergeant also stated that Barbosa had "some [prior] arrests," but no convictions.
Deputy Chief Gottheiner testified that he agreed with Sergeant Abaza's investigation and authorized the denial. The deputy chief arrived at his independent decision primarily because Barbosa failed to timely report his missing gun. The deputy chief explained that several years before Barbosa applied to the Haledon Police Department, Barbosa owned a gun that he stored above a ceiling panel in his apartment. Barbosa noticed his gun was missing after someone had entered his apartment without permission, but waited four days before reporting the missing gun. The deputy chief learned that the delay occurred because Barbosa claimed he did not know where he left his gun.
Barbosa testified that he returned from vacation and his landlord reported to him that she had seen a prowler on the property. Barbosa entered his apartment and discovered that it had been "more or less" ransacked. At that time, Barbosa had a permit to carry a gun and stated that he always stored the gun and magazine above a drop-ceiling cubbyhole that he accessed by using a chair to remove a ceiling panel. When he entered the apartment, Barbosa observed immediately that the ceiling panel had been removed and that his gun was not in its designated storage spot. The following exchange occurred between the judge and Barbosa:
Q: And where did you store - where exactly in your apartment did you store this weapon? A: The weapon was in this drop-ceiling cubbyhole.
Q: Did you ever store it any other place?
Q: Always in that same ...