Greenstein Bill that Codifies Definition of ‘Justifiable Need’ to Carry a Handgun Approved by the Senate

Greenstein Committee

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Linda R. Greenstein that would codify the definition of justifiable need to carry a handgun as currently set forth in the New Jersey Administrative Code was approved by the full Senate today.

The bill, S-2376, would require an applicant for a permit to carry a handgun to provide a written certificate of justifiable need to carry a handgun, which would be given under oath. Additionally, if the applicant is a private citizen, it shall specify in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.

“This bill codifies current regulations into law, preventing future administrations from weakening the definition of the standard for carrying a handgun,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We have a two-fold task: Enabling citizens to protect themselves against specific threats against their safety while also ensuring that those citizens given a permit to carry a handgun truly need to carry one.”

Currently justifiable need is defined as the “urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry.

During the Christie administration, the standard was amended to include “serious threats” to the circumstances that could demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that could be specified in the written certificate of justifiable need. Additionally, a permit to carry a handgun could be issued based on a special danger to an applicant’s life that could not be avoided by other “reasonable means.”

If this bill is enacted, those amendments would be negated.

“Words matter greatly here,” said Greenstein. “The bar needs to remain high for the issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.”

The bill was approved by a vote of 24-13 and advances to the governor further consideration.