Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Shavonda Sumter, Daniel R. Benson and Pamela Lampitt to strengthen New Jersey’s gun laws and protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence gained final legislative approval from the full Assembly on Thursday.
“For victims and their children, domestic violence turns a chance to live the American Dream into a horrific nightmare. I know, because I’ve lived that nightmare,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Too many victims are killed at the hands of abusers who have easy access to firearms before they ever have a chance to get out. This legislation will change that, strengthening our gun violence laws in order to protect victims of domestic violence.”
Among other provisions, the bill (A-4126) would:
– Require domestic abusers who have been convicted of a domestic violence offense to surrender their firearms and provide a receipt and affidavit to the prosecutor demonstrating that they have done so;
– Require a law enforcement officer to accompany an abuser who has become subject to a restraining order to the location of the abuser’s firearms and take possession of the firearms, or if the abuser is prohibited from going to the location by restraining order, require the officer to seize the firearms;
– Require the application for a restraining order to allow the victim to list firearms owned by the abuser;
– Require any identification card and permit issued to an abuser to be immediately revoked and require the court to establish a process for notifying the appropriate authorities of the revocation;
– Enhance penalties for domestic violence offenses.
“Study after study tells us that domestic violence and firearms make for a deadly combination,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “But these numbers are not just statistics. They represent real lives that have been shattered. We’re taking this issue head-on and strengthening our gun laws to save those lives.”
“Legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers will protect New Jersey residents,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Establishing an orderly process for the surrender of firearms is a common-sense way to ensure the safety of vulnerable individuals.”
“Gun owners who have committed an act of domestic violence have proven their intent to cause someone else harm,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “They should not thereafter have access to firearms.”
“Statistically, mere access to a firearm makes it far more likely that a violent situation will escalate into a homicide,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It’s simply common sense that revoking that access from someone who has a history of abusing others will save lives.”
“Violent individuals are already dangerous. Put a gun in their hands and the threat to their victims is that much greater,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “More than half of all murders of women in this country are committed with a gun. A person who has no misgivings about berating and physically assaulting another person cannot and should not be trusted to be responsible with a gun.”
“Many women stay in abusive relationships out of fear that something worse may happen to them or their children if they try to escape. Given that abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser has access to a firearm, that fear is very real,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “These restrictions can help prevent a bad situation from becoming fatal.”
The bill, a previous version of which passed both houses of the legislature and was conditionally vetoed by the governor earlier this year, was approved 60-2-9 by the Assembly and now heads to the Governor’s desk.