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New Jersey Definitions of Different Types of Weapons

Weapon – “Weapon” was not defined by prior statutory law except to enumerate specific instruments or objects which were weapons. The Code defines “weapon” to mean anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury. Depending on how used, a beer stein or a paintball gun can be a weapon. A weapon has been found to include gravity knives, switchblade knives, daggers, dirks, stilettos or other dangerous knives, billies, blackjacks, bludgeons, metal knuckles, sandclubs, slingshots, cesti or similar leather bands studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood, stun guns and any weapon or other device which projects, releases or emits tear gas or any other substance intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or permanent injury through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air. Moreover, this includes any components which can readily be assembled into a weapon.

Stun Gun – A stun gun is a weapon or other device which emits an electrical charge or current which is intended to temporarily or permanently disable a person.

Deface – “Deface” means to remove, deface, cover, alter or destroy the name of the maker, model designation, manufacturer’s serial number, or any other distinguishing identification mark or number on any firearm. A person who defaces a firearm is guilty of a crime of the third degree. A person who knowingly buys, receives, disposes of or conceals a defaced firearm except an antique firearm is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

Explosive and Destructive Device

Explosive – “Explosive” is defined the same as it had been under the law in effect prior to the adoption of the Code. “Explosive” means any chemical compound or mixture that is commonly used or is possessed for the purpose of producing an explosion and which contains any oxidizing and combustible materials or other ingredients in such proportions, quantities or packing that an ignition by fire, by friction, by concussion or by detonation of any part of the compound or mixture may cause such a sudden generation of highly heated gases that the resultant gaseous pressures are capable of producing destructive effects on contiguous objects. The term does not include small arms ammunition or explosives in the form prescribed by the official United States Pharmacopoeia. Possession or carrying any explosive substance with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is a crime of the second degree.

Destructive Device – “Destructive device” is a broader term than the term “explosive.” Destructive device within its definition includes any device, instrument or object designed to explode or produce uncontrolled combustion. This includes any explosive, or incendiary bomb, mine or grenade; any rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces or any missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one quarter of an ounce, any weapon capable of firing a projectile of a caliber greater than.60 caliber except a shotgun or shotgun ammunition generally recognized as suitable for sporting purposes; any Molotov cocktail or other device consisting of a breakable container containing flammable liquid and having a wick or similar device capable of being ignited. Any device manufactured for the purpose of illumination, distress signaling, line-throwing safety or similar purposes is not a destructive device. Knowing possession of a destructive device is a crime of the third degree. Possession of a destructive device with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the property or person of another is a crime of the second degree.

Firearm – “Firearm” is defined to mean any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semiautomatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It includes without limitation any firearm which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun, BB pistol, flaregun or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air or is ignited by compressed air, and in which it ejects a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter with sufficient force to injure a person. A paintball gun is not a firearm because it does not emit any solid pellet. Its pellets dissolve on impact and are not designed to pierce the skin. In addition its pellets are not three-eighths of an inch or smaller in size. Moreover, a gun which has been rendered temporarily inoperable because of a missing easily replaceable part or requires a minor repair or adjustment is still a firearm.

Antique Firearm – “Antique firearm” encompasses rifles, shotguns and antique cannons; those which are incapable of being fired or discharged; those which do not fire fixed ammunition; those which were manufactured before 1898 for which cartridge ammunition is not commercially available. In addition, these firearms must be possessed as a curiosity or ornament or for their historical significance or value. This is a twofold requirement. Not only must the firearm be of the particular type, but it must also be possessed as a curiosity, ornament or for its historical significance or value. A cap and ball revolver of Civil War vintage possessed for protection is not an antique firearm within the meaning of the Code.

An antique firearm does not include the replica of a firearm manufactured before 1898. An antique rifle or shotgun in contrast to other rifles and shotguns can be purchased without first obtaining a valid purchaser identification card.

Antique Handgun – In 1999, the Legislature created a separate definition for “Antique handgun.” It was no longer part of the definition of “antique firearm.” “Antique handgun” means a handgun manufactured before 1898, or a replica, which is recognized as being historical in nature or of historical significance and either (1) utilizes a match, friction, flint, or percussion ignition, or which utilizes a pin-fire cartridge in which the pin is part of the cartridge or (2) does not fire fixed ammunition or for which cartridge ammunition is not commercially available.

Different Types of Firearms by Definition

Machine gun – “Machine gun” means any firearm, mechanism or instrument not requiring that the trigger be pressed for each shot and having a reservoir, belt or other means of storing and carrying ammunition which can be loaded into the firearm, mechanism or instrument and fired from it. The prior statute used the term automatic rifle to be synonymous with machine gun. The Code has dropped “automatic rifle” from its definition of machine gun. Possession of a machine gun without a license is a crime of the third degree. Applications for licenses for machine guns are made in the Superior Court.

Hand Gun – “Hand gun” means any pistol, revolver or other firearm originally designed or manufactured to be fired by the use of a single hand. The statute in existence before the adoption of the Code did not use the term “hand gun.” It used the terms “pistol” or “revolver” which it defined in terms of overall length or barrel length. Possession of a hand gun without the requisite permit to carry it is a crime of the second degree. Acquiring a handgun without complying with the appropriate regulatory provisions is a crime of the fourth degree.

Personalized Handgun – In 2002, the Code was amended to add a definition for a “personalized handgun.” “Personalized handgun” means a handgun which incorporates within its design, and as part of its original manufacture, technology which automatically limits its operational use, and which cannot be readily deactivated, so that it may only be fired by an authorized or recognized user. The technology limiting the handgun’s operational use may include, but not be limited to: radio frequency tagging, touch memory, remote control, fingerprint, magnetic encoding and other automatic user identification systems utilizing biometric, mechanical or electronic systems.

No make or model of a handgun is deemed to be a “personalized handgun” unless the Attorney General has determined, through testing or other reasonable means, that the handgun meets any reliability standards that the manufacturer may require for its commercially available handguns that are not personalized. Alternatively, if the manufacturer has no such reliability standards, the handgun must meet the reliability standards generally used in the industry for commercially available handguns.

At the same time as this amendment, the Legislature placed limitations on the sale of nonpersonalized handguns once personalized handguns became commercially available.

Rifle – “Rifle” means any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and using the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger. Under the law in existence prior to the adoption of the Code, “rifle” was defined in terms of overall length and barrel length. A BB gun which does not fire through a rifled bore is not a rifle.

Possession of a rifle without having first obtained the requisite purchaser identification card is a crime of the third degree.

Shotgun – “Shotgun” means any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and using the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shots or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger, or any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder which does not fire fixed ammunition. The prior statutes in their definitions did not make a distinction between shotguns and rifles. Possession of a shotgun without having obtained the requisite firearms purchaser identification card is a crime of the third degree.

Pistol Grip – Pistol grip is a well defined handle similar to that found on a handgun. It protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon. It permits the shotgun to be held and fired with one hand.

Sawed-off Shotgun – “Sawed-off shotgun” means any shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than eighteen inches in length measured from the breach to the muzzle, or a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than sixteen inches in length measured from the breach to the muzzle, or any firearm made from a rifle or a shotgun whether by alteration or otherwise, if such firearm as modified has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches. A sawed-off shotgun is a prohibited weapon. Any person who knowingly has possession of a sawed-off shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

Imitation Firearm – Imitation firearm means an object or device reasonably capable of being mistaken for a firearm.

Trigger Lock – “Trigger lock” means a commercially available device approved by the Superintendent of State Police which is operated with a key or combination lock that prevents a firearm from being discharged while the device is attached to the firearm. It may include, but need not be limited to, devices that obstruct the barrel or cylinder of the firearm, as well as devices that immobilize the trigger. “Trigger locking device” is a device that, if installed on a firearm and secured by means of a key or mechanically, electronically, or electromechanically operated combination lock, prevents the firearm from being discharged without first deactivating or removing the device by means of a key or mechanically, electronically or electromechanically operated combination lock.

Assault Firearm – “Assault firearm” was added to the definitions when the Legislature made a number of statutory changes concerning the possession, purchase and illegal use of assault firearms and large capacity magazines. Particular firearms which are manufactured have been designated as “Assault firearms.”

These are:

Algimec AGM1 type

Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder such as the “Street Sweeper” or “Striker 12”

Armalite AR–180 type

Australian Automatic Arms SAR

Avtomat Kalashnikov type semi-automatic firearms

Beretta AR–70 and BM59 semi-automatic firearms

Bushmaster Assault Rifle

Calico M–900 Assault carbine and M–900

CETME G3

Chartered Industries of Singapore SR–88 type

Colt AR–15 and CAR–15 series

Daewoo K–1, K–2, Max 1 and Max 2, AR 100 types

Demro TAC–1 carbine type

Encom MP–9 and MP–45 carbine types

FAMAS MAS223 types

FN–FAL, FN–LAR, or FN–FNC type semi-automatic firearms

Franchi SPAS 12 and LAW 12 shotguns

G3SA type

Galil type

Heckler and Koch HK91, HK93, HK94, MP5, PSG–1

Intratec TEC 9 and 22 semi-automatic firearms

M1 carbine type

M14S type

MAC 10, MAC 11, MAC 11–9mm carbine type firearms

PJK M–68 carbine type

Plainfield Machine Company Carbine

Ruger K–Mini–14/5F and Mini–14/5RF

SIG AMT, SIG 550SP, SIG 551SP, SIG PE–57 types

SKS with detachable magazine type

Spectre Auto carbine type

Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR–48 type

Sterling MK–6, MK–7 and SAR types

Steyr A.U.G. semi-automatic firearms

USAS 12 semi-automatic type shotgun

Uzi type semi-automatic firearms

Valmet M62, M71S, M76, or M78 type semi-automatic firearms

Weaver Arm Nighthawk.

Any firearm manufactured under any designation which is substantially identical to the designated firearms is an assault firearm. In addition, there are three other categories of assault firearms. These are, a semi-automatic shotgun with either a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a pistol grip or a folding stock; a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding fifteen rounds; and a part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault firearm, or any combination of parts from which an assault firearm may readily be assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.

Components of Assault Firearms

Semi-automatic – “Semi-automatic” means a firearm which fires a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger and is self-reloading or automatically chambers a round, cartridge, or bullet.

Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – “Large capacity ammunition magazine” means a box, drum, tube, or other container which is capable of holding more than fifteen rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly into a semi-automatic firearm.

Firearm Silencer – “Firearm silencer” means any instrument, attachment, weapon or appliance for causing the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm to be silent or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm. Possession of a firearm silencer is a crime of the fourth degree. It is a prohibited device and an ordinary citizen is not permitted to possess a silencer.

Different Types of Knives by Definition

Gravity Knife – A “gravity knife” means any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force. Knowing possession of a gravity knife without any explainable lawful purpose is a crime of the fourth degree.

Switchblade Knife – “Switchblade knife” means any knife or similar device which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife. A switchblade knife is a prohibited weapon. Knowing possession of a switchblade knife without any explainable lawful purpose is a crime of the fourth degree. A knife may still be a switchblade knife even though the knife was inoperable because the blade was bent.

Dangerous Knife – “Dangerous knife” is mentioned in the definition of “weapon.” It is one the use of which may inflict a fatal wound. Assuming a knife is not one of those knives specifically enumerated, then whether the knife is a “dangerous knife” depends on all the circumstances under which the defendant possessed the knife including the time, place and situation in which the defendant possesses it as well as the defendant’s purpose for using it. Depending on the circumstances the following may be a dangerous knife: a knife with a folding blade, a machette, a boning knife, a scissors taped to be used as a stiletto. A straight razor depending on the circumstances including the purpose for which it is possessed may be a weapon.

Ballistic Knife – A ballistic knife is a weapon or other device capable of lethal use, as it can propel a knife blade.

Definitions Relating to Firearm Licensing Registration and Commerce

Manufacturer – manufacturer” means any person who receives or obtains raw materials or parts and processes them into firearms or finished parts of firearms. A manufacturer is not a person who exclusively processes grips, stocks and other non-metal parts of firearms. Manufacturer is not a person who repairs existing firearms or receives new and used raw materials or parts solely for the repair of existing firearms. The Code provides for the registration of manufacturers and establishes provisions for their regulation. Knowing violations of these regulatory provisions are crimes of the fourth degree.

Retail Dealer – “Retail dealer” means any person including a gunsmith except a manufacturer or a wholesale dealer who sells, transfers or assigns for a fee or profit any firearm or parts of firearms or ammunition which he has purchased or obtained with the intention or purpose of reselling or reassigning to persons who are reasonably understood to be the ultimate consumer. This includes any person who is engaged in the business of repairing firearms or who sells any firearm to satisfy a debt secured by the pledge of a firearm. This definition has been expanded from the definition under the prior statute which did not include the person who is engaged in the repair of firearms. The Code sets forth regulatory provisions for retail dealers. Knowing violations of these regulations are crimes of the fourth degree.

Wholesale Dealer – “Wholesale dealer” means any person except a manufacturer who sells, transfers or assigns firearms or parts of firearms to persons who are reasonably understood not to be the ultimate consumer and includes persons who receive finished parts of the firearms and assemble them into completed or partially completed firearms in furtherance of such purpose. Wholesale dealer does not include those persons who deal exclusively in grips, stocks and other non-metal parts of firearms. The Code provides for the registration of wholesale dealers and establishes provisions for their regulation. Knowing violations of these regulatory provisions are crimes of the fourth degree.

Superintendent – “Superintendent” as used in this Chapter of the Code as well as the Chapter relating to the licensing and registration of weapons means the Superintendent of the State Police. The Superintendent has the duty to promulgate standards, qualifications and other regulations relating to the licensing and registration for manufacture, purchase or possession of firearms.

Dispose of – “Dispose of” means to give, give away, lease, loan, keep for sale, offer for sale, sell, transfer or otherwise transfer possession. This definition of “dispose of” is especially important in that portion of the Code which delineates the circumstances in which the disposition or sale of weapons and dangerous instruments is an offense. The operator of a target range who allowed individuals to rent and fire guns on the range disposed of guns by this conduct. A policeman who placed a gun on the floor and asked if anyone wanted to use it disposed of the gun when a person in response picked up the gun and used it.

Additional New Jersey Weapons Crimes

Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Attorney The Graves Act – Mandatory Prison
Certain Persons Not to Possession Weapons Prohibited Weapon Crimes Attorney
Weapon Possession for Unlawful Purposes NJ Pellet Gun Attorney