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Appellate Division Upholds Denial Of Firearms Identification Card

March 14, 2019

WILLIAM H. MONE reports on a recent decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, which upheld the denial of a New Jersey man’s application for a Firearms Identification Card (“FID”) and permit to purchase a handgun.

A New Jersey man applied for a Firearms Identification Card (“FID”), which is required to own a firearm in New Jersey, and a permit to purchase a handgun. The police chief for the municipality in which the man resided denied his application because the background investigation revealed a "series of disturbing antisocial behavior." The man’s disturbing behavior included, inter alia, threatening to kill a schoolteacher and attempting to steal a police officer’s handgun when the man was eight years old, biting a teacher, and fighting another student in high school. In addition, the man’s two siblings, with whom he lived, were arrested for possession and distribution of controlled dangerous substances that were found in the home shortly after his application.

The man appealed the police chief’s decision to the Superior Court, Law Division. In preparation for the appeal, the man obtained a report from a psychologist, who concluded that he had no psychiatric disorders at that time. However, the psychologist did not review any of the man’s prior psychological reports or records and only relied upon the information that the man self-reported. The Superior Court, Law Division, upheld the denial of the man’s application, and rendered a written opinion, which found that the man’s past behavior indicated that the granting of his FID application would not be in the interest of public health, safety or welfare. The man then appealed this decision to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

On his second appeal, the man argued, inter alia, that his application should be granted because it was unrebutted that he had no present mental health condition or issues or other disqualifying conditions that warranted a denial of his FID application and that the Court substituted its own opinion for that of the psychologist. The Appellate Division upheld the denial of the man’s permit and FID applications, ruling that the Law Division judge made adequate and factually supported findings about the man’s undisputed past behavior and conditions and that the trial judge was not required to blindly accept the psychologist's report as determinative of the man’s mental condition, especially in light of the psychologist’s failure to review any of the man’s prior mental health records.

Please contact William H. Mone if you have any questions or need assistance in connection with this subject.