Is my out-of-state gun license good in New Jersey?

The short answer to the question above is, probably not. New Jersey has one of the strictest gun laws on the books. Residents of the state might be aware of the provisions of the Graves Act, but many who come to the Jersey Shore for some rest and relaxation might not be.

What can happen then is that a person carrying a handgun that is legally licensed in another state might find him or herself unexpectedly facing a charge of unlawful simple possession, even if the weapon is never brandished. Penalties can be significant and include incarceration. With the summer season on the horizon, this is something for readers to know and perhaps share.

An example of the kind of difficulty that the Graves Act can create is evident in one recent news story. A decorated U.S. Marine military police sergeant was looking at as much as five years behind bars starting this month until the governor commuted his sentence. A full pardon could come. That is under review.

Legally licensed in Virginia where he was based, the Marine had his service weapon with him six years ago on a visit to Fort Lee. During a night out at a club, a friend of his got into a confrontation with others and the friend grabbed the Marine's weapon. Police arrived. The situation was subdued with no shots fired and both the Marine and his friend were arrested.

According to one report about the case, the Marine sergeant was unaware that at the time he was violating the law. He thought military handguns were OK in all states. Since then, the law in New Jersey has been modified to exclude those in the service, but it still applies to others.

It could well be that the law will change again, perhaps in favor of licensed gun owners. In the meantime, individuals who think they protected by their state's gun licensing should be aware that it might not apply in New Jersey.

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