The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution affords you the right to keep and bear arms. Simply put, whether you have a passion for firearms or merely want to protect yourself and your property, you have the right to have a gun. You must be careful with how you store your weapon, though. After all, if a minor gains possession of your pistol, you may face charges.
In broad terms, section 2C:58-15 of the New Jersey Criminal Code holds a gun owner responsible if a minor gains possession of his or her loaded firearm. Violating this provision is a disorderly persons offense, which carries a possible penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you are facing charges, it is important to understand your obligations under New Jersey Law.
For purposes of the firearm storage law, a minor is anyone under the age of 16 and who does not have independent authorization to handle the gun. In the Garden State, a person under 18 may legally possess a rifle or shotgun. An individual between 18 and 21 years old may have a handgun. In either of these situations, however, the minor must meet certain criteria.
If a minor gains access to a firearm you own, you may face a disorderly persons charge if you knew or reasonably should have known a minor could gain access. As such, it is important to store your firearms in a reasonable fashion. Specifically, you must do at least one of the following:
- Store your gun in a lock box or locked container.
- Secure your gun with a trigger lock.
- Put your gun in a place a reasonable person would believe to be secure.
As a resident of New Jersey, you likely have a right to own a firearm. Nonetheless, you must take steps to keep your gun out of the hands of minors. Because a disorderly persons charge can complicate your life, you also must have a ready plan to defend yourself diligently against potential charges.