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Is New Jersey Profiting Off Second Amendment Rights?

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Hundred dollar bills

In our social contract as a society, we begrudgingly accept that governments at all levels can collect fees to cover the cost of administration in providing goods and services to the public. And sadly, while there’s no exception for our Second Amendment rights, New Jersey has, in typical fashion, made the fee system for firearms permits, background checks and carry permits a racket that even the mob would appreciate.

There’s a US Code that addresses this: 31 U.S. Code § 9701 – “Fees and charges for Government services and things of value.” And although this is a federal code, it is important to note the very first criteria for such a fee is that it is “fair,” followed closely by fees aligned with costs:

Each charge shall be—

  1. fair; and
  2. based on—
    1. the costs to the Government;
    2. the value of the service or thing to the recipient;
    3. public policy or interest served; and
    4. other relevant facts.

New Jersey has some of the highest fees in the nation related to exercising Second Amendment rights. The state just recently passed its annual budget. In one of the drafts of that budget, all firearms-related fees were poised to double! All this just two years after an enormous hike in firearms-related fees were signed into law at the end of 2022.

Our colleague at the NJ NICS Research Center has parsed the data, and the analysis shows that New Jersey fees not only fall far out of the bounds of what a fair fee structure should look like, the State also appears to be profiting handsomely from having the corner market on administering who may and may not exercise their Second Amendment rights. And the fees far outweigh the costs.

Here’s the breakdown:

New Jersey averages 426 requests per day according to official statistics published by the FBI (06/01/2023 to 05/31/2024). An average of 60.12% of all firearm transactions are handguns, so we estimate the revenue generated by background checks related to a purchase to be a minimum of $4,763,611 per year. This includes $16 NICS fee for pistols, $15 NICS fee for other firearms, along with $25 for each pistol purchase permit. In the year of 2023 alone, the NICS fee on its own accounted for $2,494,103.

If you include the 20,831 permits to carry applications in the last 12 months at $200 per permit, add another $4,166,200 per year! This would be a total of $8,929,811 per year!

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If the aforementioned proposed budget would have passed (increasing fees to: PTC $400, Pistol Permit $50, Background Check of $45), the illegal POLL TAX would have generated $20,005,356 per year!

None of these figures include FID Cards, FID Renewals, Duplicate FID cards, SB212A fee, fingerprint fees, online surcharges or unused pistol permits!! Nor does it include the sales tax on an annual 155,000+ firearm purchases per year, nor the new ammunition transaction fee of $1.50 per purchase.

According to an OPRA Response (W203151) from the state (which was initiated by our friends and researchers, Garden State Guns Reddit Team), the following data represents payroll information for employees assigned to unit R029 (NICS unit):

  • 2019 Payroll Expenses: $676,103.98
  • 2020 Payroll Expenses: $837,976.34
  • 2021 Payroll Expenses: $1,069,029.44
  • 2022 Payroll Expenses: $893,834.96
  • 2023 Payroll Expenses: $535,518.89

(Please note these expenses are total payroll for the year, regardless of how many days in the unit. This means that if a state employee works for just one day, their entire annual salary (including overtime) is included.)

Although there are additional administrative costs, such as paper, forms, printing, mailing, etc., they would be nominal compared to the payroll costs. Making a generous assumption that administrative costs were equivalent to the 2023 payroll, the total costs to the state to administer such fees would be roughly $1,000,000 per year, while the revenue generated is almost 10 times that under the current fee structure, and potentially 20 times that under the new fee structure.

The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the State is taking in fees that are many orders of magnitude larger than the cost of administration, making the scheme a profit-generating scam that lines the coffers of the state.

Whether this bothers you as a taxpayer or as a gun owner, it’s important that you take action. Call and write your New Jersey elected representatives on a regular basis and especially when firearms-related proposals are brought up before the legislature.

When you have open-air racists advocating for high fees to prevent “those people” from exercising their rights and a governor willing to sign any such bill into law, we need to keep the pressure on. Here’s a little reminder of what our legislators think of each and every one of us. Hear it straight from the mouth of the then-Assemblyman, now-Senator, John F. McKeon.

If you like our articles… please subscribe to our 2nd Amendment update list. We generally send one email per week containing 2A news you might’ve missed.

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Siegel/Koons v. Platkin
Oral arguments heard Oct 25
Awaiting opinion from 3rd Circuit of Appeals

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