N.J. Permit to Carry Dashboard Reveals Startling Discoveries

FPC, SAF, NJ2AS Challenge New Jersey Handgun Carry Ban
N.J. Permit to Carry Dashboard Reveals Startling Discoveries

On March 14, 2024, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced the launch of a “Permit to Carry Dashboard.” Since the 2022 NYSRPA v. Bruen decision, people have been able to apply for and get permits to carry in N.J. As part of an initiative to perhaps chill the exercise of the right, or show areas to “stay away from,” Platkin released a treasure trove of data via the dashboard.

The Dashboard

New Jersey Permit to Carry Dashboard Applications

At the time of the release of the permit to carry dashboard, Governor Phil Murphy, D-N.J., made a statement chastising the so-called “gun lobby” and said, “As we continue to adjust to the reality we face after the Bruen decision and fight against the consistent attacks from the gun lobby to undermine commonsense gun safety legislation, our mission is to make New Jersey a safer place to live, work, go to school, and raise a family.”

What did the permit to carry dashboard reveal? As of April 8, 2024, there have been over 35,010 post-Bruen permits to carry issued in the Garden State. During that same date range, there have been 229 permits to carry denied issuance. Of the 229 permits to carry that have been denied issuance, 121, more than half, were denied by issuing authorities using a “subjective standard.”

Subjective standard 2C:58-3c.(5)

New Jersey Permit to Carry Dashboard Data on Public Health, Safety and Welfare

2C:58-3c.(5), is the standard that has been used in more than half the denials. This standard restricts the issuance of permits to carry, firearms identification cards, and pistol purchaser’s permits.

“To any person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare because the person is found to be lacking the essential character of temperament necessary to be entrusted with a firearm;”

Per both Bruen and Heller, subjective standards are not to be used when weighing the eligibility of an applicant for firearm related permitting. Specifically, footnote #9 from Bruen states that requirements for permits shall “contain only ‘narrow, objective, and definite standards’ guiding licensing officials.”

When reached for comment on why the state was still allowing a standard that’s verboten per Heller, Bruen, et.al., Attorney General Matthew Platkin’s office stated, “Thanks for your email. The office declines to comment.”

Every police chief, with the mayors and town councils carbon copied, of the jurisdictions that used  2C:58-3c.(5) to deny the issuance of permits to carry have been contacted. 124 letters were sent via U.S. post to the 62 jurisdictions and they have been asked to comment on why they’re still using a subjective standard. There have been single digit responses to these queries.

Excessive Delays

Through a N.J. Open Public Records Act request, further information was obtained about the permit application process in New Jersey. OPRA W215474 requested all available dates of application and dates of decision on permit to carry applications. The information was returned via the fulfillment of the OPRA through an excel worksheet containing the requested data.

The data showed that the longest pre-Bruen permit to carry wait time was from an application in 2019 and that individual waited 1,178 days for a decision. The longest post-Bruen permit to carry application wait time was 505 days. And, the average wait time for a decision on permits to carry is 59.1 days. Approximately 10% of applications had waits in excess of 120 days and 10% were up to nine days.

Observed in Bruen, the majority opinion in footnote #9 states:

“That said, because any permitting scheme can be put toward abusive ends, we do not rule out constitutional challenges to shall-issue regimes where, for example, lengthy wait times in processing license applications or exorbitant fees deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry.”

The New Jersey system for getting permits to carry is nearly all electronic. Further, applicants must already be in the electronic system, by way of a firearms identification card, prior to permit to carry application submission. How is the system not instant, or at least as instant as the N.J. background check?

When asked about the “lengthy wait times” applicants have suffered, Attorney General Matthew Platkin’s office said, “Thanks for your email. The office declines comment.”

Race Data Missing

Other information was missing from the permit to carry dashboard upon its launch in March. Through OPRA W215472, the race of application denials was requested. The Attorney General’s office sent back instructions on how to access the data.

The data was alarming.

New Jersey Permit to Carry Dashboard Data on White Applicants

Of the 18,964 white applicants, 102 were denied the issuance of permits to carry. Of those 102 denials, 52 were denied under the subjective 2C:58-3c.(5). That’s 50.9% of white denials falling under an illegal standard.

New Jersey Permit to Carry Dashboard Data on Black Applicants

Of the 4,115 Black applicants, 55 were denied the issuance of permits to carry. Of those 55 denials, 26 were denied under the subjective 2C:58-3c.(5). That’s 47.2% of the denials falling under an illegal standard.

Denial Rates in Comparison

But what about the overall denial rate? Of white applicants, .538% of applications got denied. Of Black applicants, 1.34% of applications got denied. Therefore, Black applicants are denied almost two and a half times more than white applicants, 249%.

Further, looking at the subjective standard being used, .274% of white applications are denied using 2C:58-3c.(5) and .632% of Black applications. 2.3 times more Black applicants were denied due to subjective standards over whites when looking at the denial rates.

New Jersey concealed carry applicants that are black are denied the ability to exercise a civil right two and half times more than whites.

Is this racial bias?

What defines “the interest of the public health, safety or welfare because the person is found to be lacking the essential character of temperament necessary to be entrusted with a firearm”? It could simply be an issuing authority not having a statute to lean on and still not wanting an individual to be issued a permit. Perhaps it could be a racial bias?

Attorney General Matthew Platkin’s office was asked to comment on these statistics and they stated after two queries, “The office declines to comment.”

Governor Phil Murphy’s office has failed to respond to requests for comment on the potential racial disparity in N.J.’s permitting system. The entire legislative body in New Jersey has been asked to comment on this issue and there have yet to be any “on the record” responses to those queries.

Attorney General Matthew Platkin is on notice

There seems to be multiple issues with the permitting scheme in New Jersey. The Office of the Attorney General’s press contact as well as the Attorney General’s actual email account have been contacted about:

  1. The issues with the state still allowing the use of a subjective standard 
  2. The excessive waits on application decisions
  3. Black applicants being denied their rights over 249% of whites, and 2.3 times more when subjective standards are used.

In every instance, the Attorney General’s office had no comment.

Pending litigation and the path forward

There’s pending litigation challenging several provisions of New Jersey’s carry law. The combined Koons/Siegel v. Platkin cases are currently awaiting a decision for a preliminary injunction at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. These challenges include ones to the application process as well as the actual act of carrying and so-called “sensitive location” carry prohibitions. Other litigation and challenges to 2C:58-3c.(5) are also ongoing through different appeals that have been filed due to individual applicant denials.

How the state can continue to allow these practices and standards to proliferate is beyond belief. There’s no justification. The state cannot claim ignorance. We can be hopeful that these damning statistics from the Attorney General’s own office will pop up in these legal challenges. Regardless, Platkin’s permit to carry dashboard has served the important purpose of exposing the complicit nature of those in office as well as the flaws in the system.

For more coverage on the content of this article, the following interviews talk at length about these issues in the Garden State:

Gun for Hire Radio Podcast Episode 677

Gun Lawyer Podcast Episode 185 Murphy’s Racist Gun Laws EXPOSED!

NJ Gun Permit Process May Be Discriminating Against Permit Applicants of Color: Investigation

About John Petrolino

John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino, facebook at @thepenpatriot and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .John PetrolinoJohn Petrolino

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