Legal vs. Illegal Transport of Weapons in New Jersey

How to Legally Travel to and Through New Jersey with a Firearm

Criminal Defense Attorneys if You Violate the Laws for Transporting Guns in NJ You may be driving off to a gun range or a hunting trip with your guns in tow or just visiting a friend with your handgun in your car, after which you may even transfer it to a holster since you have a license to carry in the state. Maybe you are driving through New Jersey to visit family in Pennsylvania with your guns. With more New Jersey residents obtaining carry permits, the number of people surprised when they face charges for violating the gun transport laws is on the rise. You may be unaware that New Jersey has strict laws about carrying guns and ammunition in your vehicle.

If You Plan to Transport Your Gun in New Jersey

New Jersey does not prohibit people from transporting guns in their vehicles, so long as the gun and ammunition are not available for immediate use. Logically, the state does not want people driving their cars with loaded guns ready to shoot at cars or people. Federal and state laws criminalize the illegal transportation of firearms. You may transport guns you are legally permitted to have in your vehicle within the state or across state lines when the guns are unloaded and secured in a “fastened case” or gun box out of reach of a driver or passenger.

What Federal Law Says about Transportation of Firearms

The federal law 18 U.S.C. 926A, the Safe Passage Act, allows the legal owners of guns to carry unloaded firearms locked, tied or contained securely in the trunk or, if no trunk, in a locked contained farthest from the driver and passenger compartment. Ammunition must be similarly locked away from the center console or glove compartment, somewhere distant from the driver. All magazines are separate from the firearm.

What New Jersey Law Says about Transporting Guns

New Jersey law, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6, requires anyone transporting firearms in their vehicle to ensure the firearm is unloaded in closed and secured case, securely tied in a package, or a gun box in the trunk of the vehicle with ammunition in a separate container in a locked trunk. For vehicles without a separate trunk from the passenger portion, the owner must lock firearms in a container some place away from the driver or passenger, away from the glove box or center console.

Additionally, anyone may transport a firearm from where they purchased it to their home or business, from home to their business, between homes or businesses during a move, traveling to or from hunting or fishing grounds, traveling to or from a target range, or between a home or business and a firearms repair place for repairs. Although New Jersey allows travel with guns between authorized destinations, the law does not allow deviations from the route to and from an authorized place unless it is reasonably necessary. What is reasonably necessary depends on the circumstances, given the starting and ending point of the drive, the route taken, the number of stops and reasons for them, and where the vehicle is parked and for how long.

For example, when a person returning home from a nearby target range makes an emergency stop before getting home to use the restroom in a restaurant, the deviation from the route is brief and necessary, and therefore, probably legal. On the other hand, stopping for an hour or more for dinner and drinks, leaving the car parked outside the restaurant on a busy street, is probably not considered necessary or reasonable.

The Firearm You are Traveling with Must be Legally Owned and Possessed

An individual driving with an unloaded handgun properly stored per the legal requirements may still break the law. The firearm must be legally owned and possessed. So, the properly stored handgun is still illegal when the owner does not have a gun permit. Anyone purchasing a firearm in New Jersey must have a firearms purchaser identification card. With such a card, a purchaser may buy a rifle, shotgun, or air rifle. A handgun requires a handgun purchaser permit issued from the state police.

Traffic Stops when a Weapon is in the Vehicle

Getting pulled over for a traffic violation can end disastrously when you have firearms in the vehicle. Should a police officer stop you, they will ask you for your license, registration, and insurance information. They will look inside your vehicle and when firearms are visible, they will ask you about them. Questions about your travels, your starting and ending destination, and reasons for the firearms in your car are not unusual. They will also check on the necessary permits for handguns and verification that the guns are yours.

Common Weapons Charges while Transporting Firearms

When your firearms are not stored legally, you could face fourth degree charges for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9. In addition, illegally transporting the ammunition to firearms is a separate fourth degree charge, among other charges you could face. Further, when you do not have the proper permits for a handgun, you could face charges for second degree unlawful possession of a weapon. Without the proper paperwork for rifles or shotguns, you may be charged with third degree unlawful weapons possession.

On the other hand, possessing a firearm or weapon that is illegal to have in New Jersey is a third or fourth degree indictable felony offense, depending on the weapon. For example, having a sawed-off shotgun is a third degree crime, while other prohibited weapons may be fourth degree crimes. In sum, you could have multiple counts of gun possession and prohibited weapons charges on top of other serious charges when you are a certain person. Some people by law may not possess firearms, such as those named in restraining orders. It is a second degree crime to be a certain person in possession of a gun.

Consequences of Illegally Traveling with a Firearm in NJ

The consequences of a conviction depend on the weapons charge you’re facing. Second degree crimes are punishable by five to ten years in prison and a $150,000.00 fine; third degree criminal convictions result in a three to five year prison term and $15,000.00 in fines. Fourth degree crimes carry an 18 month prison sentence maximum and a $10,000.00 fine. In other words, you could be in prison a long time for multiple convictions, especially since gun crimes are subject to the Graves Act mandatory minimums. Gun crime convictions require a defendant to serve one third to one half of their sentence or 42 months, whichever is greater.

Available Options and Defenses when You Have been Charged with a Gun in Your Vehicle in NJ

The bottom line is that you will need legal help from an experienced criminal defense attorney if the police arrest you for violating the regulations for traveling with firearms. At The Tormey Law Firm, our lawyers can protect you against incriminating yourself should the police attempt to interrogate you after arrest. You can assert your constitutional right to remain silent and have an attorney. We will also defend you through the entire criminal justice process. With our experience, we may be able to secure a Graves Act waiver to avoid mandatory minimum prison sentences that prevent an early release from prison if you are considered an eligible candidate.

Our decades of combined experience handling gun cases means we can be instrumental in helping you divert your sentence to the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program, which allows you to serve your sentence outside of prison while basically on probation. You enroll in the program for the designated one to three years, attending education classes, perhaps submitting to drug testing, or other requirements tailored to your specific circumstances. However, you must be a first-time offender to get PTI for any case, much less a serious one involving a firearm.

Even though it is not customary for second degree charges, our attorneys can often persuade a prosecutor to allow you to apply even for a second degree criminal charge when the situation is appropriate. For example, you may be a recent arrival to New Jersey and unaware that you needed a permit for a handgun or that certain weapons were not legal in the state. Completing PTI leaves your record clear of convictions.

Talk to a Seasoned Firearm Defense Attorney on our Team Today

Facing harsh penalties for gun violations is horrifying. You can put your mind at ease by consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Tormey Law Firm to discuss your gun charges in a free consultation and know that you are putting your case in a team of professionals’ hands with unparalleled experience handling weapons charges throughout New Jersey. Contact us at (201)-556-1570 for a free consultation and talk to a lawyer who can assist you.


  • No promises, just a Pro!

  • Excellent Lawyer... Helped me in every step off my Case..

  • Great work

  • Best lawyer!!

  • FRO removal success!!

  • Easy to work with, straightforward

  • Kept my license

  • Father of client

  • Excellent Attorney , Charges Dismissed as promised

  • Helped every step of the way

  • Avoid mandatory jail time on shoplifting charges


  • Help

  • Did the job he was hired to do

  • Great lawyer

  • Simple assault charge was dropped

  • Top Notch Representation

  • Well worth it.

  • DUI Case Dismissed

  • 2 felony charges dismissed

  • Cameron bury

  • great attorney

  • Hands Down Professional and delivers results!!!

  • DUI case dismissed

  • 125 stars out of 10!!

  • Excellent at getting best outcome

  • Excellent Attorney

  • TRO Dismissal

  • Efficient Excellent attorney.

  • Excellent attorney

  • Travis successfully defended me in an unprecedented Final Restraining Order Trial with ease

  • Kick Ass Attorney!

  • Efficient and professional attorney

  • Great Lawyer And Great Results

  • Top Notch DUI Attorney

  • Client Domestic Violence

  • Restraining Order

  • A real pro in a time of need - DWI Dismissed.

  • The most experienced, patient and affordable attorney

  • Travis Tormey successfully had a False TRO against me dismissed.

  • Underaged Drinking

  • Underaged Drinking

  • DUI Dismissed

  • Saved me from a DUI. HIGHLY recommended

  • Restraining Order

  • Case dismissed with Data Driven Facts

  • Respectful. Attentive. Professional.

  • Trespassing and Under the Influence Disorderly Persons charges

  • If you are reading this- You have reached the right place! Undoubtedly, the BEST Law Firm in New Jersey!

  • Amazing attorney with a heart of gold

  • Exceeded my expectations, Highly Professional Attorney

  • Responsive and knowledgeable.

  • The Tormey law firm was very kind and professional

  • Expungement

  • Travis Tormey is a True Professional Who Kept Me Out of Jail

  • Saved me a whole ton of problems

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • A nightmare case, with a happy ending.

  • Elite NJ Marijuana Attorney! 5 Stars!!

  • An Excellent lawyer!

  • Great lawyer for DUI

  • I highly endorse Travis Tormey.

  • Travis Tormey Law Firm

  • Travis is a Lifesaver

  • Travis J. Tormey - Evaluation

  • Great Lawyer. Got me off exactly what I wanted

  • Consummate Professional!

  • Great Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Good Service

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Hired to defend me for aggravated assault

  • Hired to defend me in a restraning order

  • Excellent attorney, highly recommend his talents

  • DWI Counsel

  • I highly recommend Mr. Tormey

  • Great attorney

  • Travis Tormey, Esq. - Great Results!

  • Travis Tormey - Excellent Attorney-Kind and Trustworthy

  • Excellent Attorney-Trustworthy and Kind

  • An Outstanding lawyer!!! That will represent you in the correct way!

  • Excellent Attorney! You will not be dissapointed....

  • Travis Tormey Gets Results!

  • tormey

  • Success!!

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • Only Lawyer I Recommend

  • Very Grateful

  • Attorney review of Travis Tormey

  • Excellent

Experience You Can Trust

With unmatched knowledge and experience in the practice of law, the seasoned attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm are committed to serving their clients and tenaciously confronting the allegations against them.

We will examine every facet of your case in order to defend your constitutional rights and reputation. With a dedicated legal advocate to assist you, our attorneys will ensure that you are never forced to navigate the complex legal process on your own.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Learn More About How to Fight Your Charges

If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

The Tormey Law Firm

Areas we serve

Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Somerset County including Morristown, Denville, Dover, Mount Olive, Parsippany, Hackensack, East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Fort Lee, Garfield, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ridgefield Park, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Clifton, and Wayne.

  • Hackensack Office

    254 State Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

    (201) 556-1570

    view larger map

  • Morristown Office

    55 Madison Avenue Suite 400, Morristown, NJ 07960

    (908) 336-5008

    view larger map