Close this search box.

Thursday, May 30, 2024


Gun Rights Activists Fight for Faster Permitting

Keith Woodrow

By Christopher South

COURT HOUSE – About a dozen men appeared one-by-one before Superior Court Judge Christopher Gibson Oct. 7 for the last step in the permit process for carrying a gun in New Jersey. 
The hearings came a day after an informal protest by a handful of people turned out to promote Second Amendment rights, waving yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags in front of the courthouse. Those gathered for the protest Oct. 6 were upset over the slowness of the permitting process. 
But in the court Oct. 7, the issue shifted to focus on the limitations of the permit. The first applicant asked if the carry permit would apply to all his registered guns. 
“The permit itself is specific to the handgun listed on your application,” Superior Court Judge Christopher Gibson said. 
“The judge apparently hasn’t read the 58-4a permitting law,” said Eatontown attorney Evan Nappen, author of six books on knife and gun laws. “In the very first paragraph, it says the permit is for any guns you own.”
Nappen was referring to Title 2C of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. The last sentence of subsection 58-4(a) reads that “one permit shall be sufficient for all handguns owned by the holder thereof, but the permit shall apply only to a handgun carried by the actual and legal holder of the permit.”
“Frankly, I don’t know why (the applicant) would have even asked that,” Nappen said.
Keith Woodrow, owner of Full Metal Jacket Gun Range in Seaville, spoke on behalf of the group in front of the courthouse Oct 6, saying they were just a group of second amendment patriots standing up for their rights. 
He said New Jersey law established a process for obtaining a gun carry permit, but the agencies that process the permit application – including the Superior Court – slow down the process. 
“There were supposed to be 25 applications heard in court today, but there were only 11,” Woodrow said Oct. 7. 
Woodrow said the Administrative Office of the Courts, in its own directives, says there is no hearing required for the gun carry permit unless there is something questionable in the applicant’s background. He said the court is violating its own directives. 
Woodrow said anyone who wants a handgun carry permit must fill out an application and submit it to their local police department, which performs a background check. 
“They have 60 days to complete your background check and then they turn it over to Superior Court,” he said. 
Woodrow said the courts are turning around and sending the application packet to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office for another background check.
“They don’t trust that the municipal police departments are doing the background checks correctly. So now, it goes over to Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, and that’s probably two weeks right there. So then, they turn around and send them back to the court. And then the court just sits on it,” Woodrow complained. “Okay, so the first hearing date is tomorrow (Oct. 7) for Cape May County, and they’re only doing 25 people at a time. There are hundreds of people waiting right now.”
Jill Houck, trial court administrator for the Superior Court in Atlantic and Cape May counties, said Woodrow is wrong. 
“On the contrary, we are doing everything we can to process these as quickly and as efficiently as possible, but we are dealing with a backlog,” Houck explained.
Houck said she had spoken to Woodrow previously and explained that the Supreme Court made the decision about the carry permit law in August and the Superior Courts were not given guidance as to how to process the applications until September. 
The first hearings in both Atlantic and Cape May Counties were held Oct. 7. She said there would be 25 hearings in Atlantic County each week, and 25 in Cape May County every other week. Houck said once the court gets through the initial backlog from August and September it will be able to process applications more quickly. 
As far as being upset about coming into court for a hearing, Houck said the reason is to put any restrictions on the record and to explain where a person with a carry permit may not have a gun – such as in a school. They also must appear in order to obtain their physical ID carrying cards.
Houck said people also must understand that the courts are still dealing with backlogs and delays caused by Covid. She pointed out the need for justice in routine matters of the court’s operations.
“We have a full criminal docket besides these permits. People are incarcerated who have the presumption of innocence, and they want their cases disposed of,” Houck said. “We are doing these permits in the order they were filed.”
Prior to reviewing the first application, First Assistant Prosecutor Michelle DeWeese made a general announcement, saying the Supreme Court had determined that a denial clause saying the applicant must have a justifiable reason may not be a requirement of the carry permit application process. 
DeWeese said New Jersey’s law was similar to that of New York, and that New Jersey would follow the Supreme Court’s guidance.  
Thoughts? Submit a Spout, write a letter to the editor, email or call 609-886-8600 ext. 128.


Spout Off

Other – What ever happend to accountability? All I see, especially in the Spout Off, is people blaming something or someone for their OWN problems. You need an example? The situations in Ocean City &…

Read More

Lower Township – LTES transportation has improved 100 percent since the beginning of the school year, finally after all these years

Read More

Cape May – Comments made here that if re-elected, Donald Trump may never leave office. Actually, he can only serve one more term, and when he leaves, I would hope that he would be replaced by one of his sons….

Read More

Most Read

Print Edition

Recommended Articles

Skip to content