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Gopal Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence Clears Committee

Trenton – In an effort to better safeguard survivors of domestic violence, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal which would require notification to survivors when firearms are returned to the person who was charged with domestic violence.


“Each year, over 600 women are shot to death by their intimate partners, and there are over 4.5 million survivors of attempted murder by their partner,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “It is a sad reality to see women being killed by someone they once trusted, and we must do whatever we can to safeguard surviving victims from further abuse that could lead to death. With this bill, we can ensure that victims of domestic violence are being given proper notice when their abuser has their firearms returned to them, allowing them to know if they are in potential danger.”


The bill, S-3105, would require notification to be provided to domestic violence victims or individuals who petitioned for an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) within 10 days of a firearm being returned to the owner who was charged with a violent crime.


Under the ‘Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991’, law enforcement officers may take possession of any weapons owned by a person charged with domestic violence. However, the weapons may be returned to the individual after 45 days if the county prosecutor’s office does not determine that the firearms should not be returned.


Additionally, the ‘Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018’ allows for family or household members to petition the Superior Court for an extreme risk protective order against persons who pose a significant danger of bodily injury to themselves or others by possessing or purchasing a firearm. The ERPO prohibits the subject from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition and from holding a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun and permit to carry a handgun. A person who is subject to the order is required to surrender their firearms or ammunition to a law enforcement agency but may petition the agency for the return of any surrendered firearms or ammunition upon termination of the order.


The bill was released from the committee by a vote of 6-0.