Pastors Struggle with CCW Process in New Jersey

Two pastors in Southern New Jersey are battling the state's strict concealed carry permitting process in order to, they say, protect their congregation—and they're running into roadblocks placed by local authorities, according to this story from

Pastor Kevin Bernat with New Life Assembly in Egg Harbor Township, and Pastor Jeffrey Kovach of Calvary Bible Church in Mount Laurel, have reached out to the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) to voice their frustrations.

"New Jersey legislators do not want people to be able to carry a firearm and defend themselves," NJ2AS president Alexander Roubain said.

This breakdown of New Jersey's concealed carry permitting process from explains everything you need to know to understand just how much red tape Kovach, Bernat, and anyone else seeking a CCW permit face.

Like some other gun-strict states, New Jersey requires applicants to demonstrate the "justifiable need to carry a firearm."

Would-be first-time gun owners in New Jersey must go to their local police station, take home forms to fill out, submit to background investigations, be fingerprinted by the state police, pay pertaining fees and submit contact information for references who are not family members (they will be mailed forms to fill out and return to the police). Police will then conduct a 14-point investigation and give an approval or denial within 30 days, though it sometimes takes longer. And that's all before applying for a concealed-carry permit.

Roubain said it's "absurd" that applicants be required to provide a justifiable need for a Constitutional right.

"As time goes by, I'm becoming more and more uncomfortable about the safety and security of the church," Kovach recent told Chasing News, a NJ-based news program (video above).

Roubain says there are about 1,600 approved concealed carry permits in New Jersey, and few are held by everyday citizens. The criteria is a "de facto ban" on concealed carry, he said.

Bernate is currently in the middle of the permitting process. Kobach says the process is expensive and difficult to complete successfully. The two reportedly told Roubain that authorities made up rules that violate state statutes. Bernate had to shell out $550 for an evaluation by a psychologist he was told was necessary, although there's nothing on the books that says such an evaluation is a requirement of the application.

The two pastors say the fatal shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina encouraged them to get their permits.

In late June, Gov. Chris Christie announced he would fast-track firearms permit applications for domestic violence victims or other people "living under a direct or material threat." That announcement came after the June 3 death of a Carol Bowne, a Berlin, N.J. woman who had both a pending firearm application without he local police department and an active restraining order against an ex-boyfriend who killed her in her driveway.

Christie has already pardoned some out-of-state individuals arrested for carrying guns that were legal in their home states. New Jersey has no reciprocity agreements with other states and doesn't require any concealed carry permits.