JACKSON – A prior requirement calling for additional fingerprinting for firearm applicants after a two year period is no longer being enforced by the township’s police department.
Council President Rob Nixon clarified the issue during a May 28 Council meeting where a firearms organization took aim at Township Police Chief Matthew Kunz for requiring multiple fingerprinting for firearm applicants.
Hightstown resident Alex “Aljandro” Roubian, the president and managing editor of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) questioned Nixon before and during the evening’s session concerning what the chief’s policy was.
According to the organization’s website, the NJ2AS is a civil rights advocacy group “that fights against unreasonable gun laws. We believe in responsible ownership and use of firearms (the right to carry) as part of our rights as Americans under the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights.”
The website also states that group’s mission is to “educate the public and the legislature on the safe and responsible use of firearms, laws, and policies to protect our freedoms.”
In articles that appear on the group’s website, the organization has characterized Kunz of placing “personal feelings and agenda above the law and the Constitution.”
The group’s criticism comes from the chief’s requiring firearm applicants to submit their fingerprints for a handgun permit if it has been more than two years since they last provided them.
The organization asserts that Kunz is “brazenly not following New Jersey state law, administration code and guidelines and undermining the Second Amendment freedoms of the people he exists to serve and protect. We are going to hold him accountable.”
On May 21, NJ2AS filed a formal complaint to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, requesting that they investigate the Township Police Department for violating state law and take action.
New Jersey law notes the process for obtaining a firearms identification card and handgun permit which includes consent to a mental health background check, two references and submitting fingerprints once.
NJ2AS maintains that the law includes clauses specifying that applicants “need not be fingerprinted again” and “no additional requirements” shall be imposed.
Roubian spoke to one resident in the audience prior to the meeting’s start, who had expressed his view about an unfair delay in being able to obtain his firearms permit.
“I was told by Mr. Nixon that the requirement for the fingerprinting was no longer being enforced,” Roubian said. He told Nixon and the members of council that the organization had secured documentation showing that such a requirement did exist on the department’s books.
“It doesn’t ignore the fact that it was being required,” Roubian said, adding that this process has in the past caused unnecessary delays when it was enforced. “We have members who are police officers and are police chiefs who get their permits in three to 12 days.”
Roubian said “the fact it is taking the Jackson Township Police three to six months to process applications is concerning. It is disrespectful to the constitution as this is a constitutional right.”
Nixon reminded Roubian that Jackson Mayor Michael Reina is a gun owner and a strong advocate for the second amendment. “With the issue you raised I asked the chief today if that was the requirement and he said no it was not. They are not enforcing a two-year requirement. That is the reality moving forward.”
Roubian maintained that police documentation had called for a gun owner to be fingerprinted again after two years which the applicant would have to pay for. “There have been many Attorney General directives stating that no additional requirements are allowed. The process has to be consistent in every municipality in New Jersey.”
“What I would like to see the council get involved and to see that these time frames be reduced from three to six months. There is no excuse for the delays,” he said.
Council Vice President Barry Calogero said he would set up a meeting with Kunz and the department to go over current and past procedures regarding this issue within the next two weeks and that within three weeks he would have an update on the matter for Roubian and the public.
“Generally speaking, there are people up here (on the dais) that agree with you that there should not be any additional burdens placed on second amendment rights here in Jackson and anywhere else so assuming all paperwork is in the process should be working quickly,” Nixon said.
“Within the next two to three weeks we should have a response for you,” Calogero said.
The Jackson Times reached out to Chief Kunz and the Township Police Department for a statement about the complaints by the NJ2AS and to clarify the past and current policy but did not receive a response at press time.