Sweeney, Weinberg & Mosquera Announce Effort to Override Conditional Veto of Bill to Take Guns Out of the Hands of Abusers

Sweeney Weinberg Mosquera

TRENTON – Joined by gun violence prevention advocates, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera today announced an effort to override the governor’s conditional veto of legislation that would help to get guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers.

The legislation is one of numerous gun violence prevention bills advanced by Senate Democrats and vetoed by Governor Christie. The bill, S-805, will be posted for an override vote in the Senate in the coming weeks.

“Too many lives have been lost to gun violence and, here in New Jersey, we have experienced too many missed opportunities to take action,” said Senator Sweeney. “The nation is still absorbing the terrible tragedy that took place in Orlando. This override offers each and every legislator the opportunity to do something about gun violence, and to act against potentially deadly domestic violence. I am asking my colleagues to help make our homes and our communities safer. Let’s show that here in New Jersey we won’t just stand by in the face of gun violence.”

Statistics show that a woman is five times more likely to be murdered by her intimate partner if there is a gun in the home than if there is not, according to the organization Everytown for Gun Safety. In New Jersey, more than half of female homicide victims in 2011 were killed in domestic violence incidents. There were 269 domestic violence homicides in New Jersey from 2003-2012 and nearly one-third of these homicides involved firearms, according to statistics.

“Time and again we have put forward legislation that aims to prevent gun violence, and time and again the governor has responded with vetoes,” said Senator Weinberg. “Setting up a process to take guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers, who are already prohibited from possessing them, should not be a policy that is up for debate. We are asking our Republican colleagues to work with us to protect the lives of women and children in dangerous family situations. We are asking that they support an override of the governor’s conditional veto.”

“The mere presence of a gun significantly increases the likelihood that a domestic dispute will escalate into a homicide. This legislation is about protecting women and children and holding abusers accountable,” said Assemblywoman Mosquera. “As someone who lived through the agony of being in a home with an abuser, I can only think of the many who continue to suffer in silence. On behalf of my mother and so many other women who have experienced, or are experiencing, a life of constant fear, I will continue the fight for this and other common sense policies that will save lives.”

Current law prohibits individuals from possessing firearms when a domestic violence restraining order is in effect and for those who have been convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense. Passed by the Legislature with bipartisan support, the legislation (S-805) would create a formal process to remove firearms from the hands of domestic abusers. Both in cases where a domestic violence restraining order is in effect and upon conviction of a domestic violence offense, the Superior Court would order abusers to turn over their firearms, including any that have not already been seized or surrendered.

In addition, the bill would require that an abuser’s firearms purchaser ID cards and permits to purchase a handgun be suspended during a domestic violence restraining order, and revoked if the individual is convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense. It would set up a formal process through the court for turning over the ID cards and permits.

The bill would also create protections for victims of domestic violence, requiring that before firearms are returned to a gun owner – in cases where firearms were seized following a domestic violence call – victims be provided information about their right to seek a restraining order against an abuser, and the ability to apply to the court to seek revocation of a firearms purchaser ID card or gun permit. It also sets up a formal process for a victim of domestic violence, in filing a restraining order, to provide information about firearms to which the abuser has access and their location, if known.

Finally, it would require law enforcement to conduct a records search of firearm ownership prior to issuing a temporary or final restraining order, and require a search of the state’s central registry of domestic violence reports to determine whether a record of domestic violence exists that would make an applicant for a firearms purchaser ID card or gun permit ineligible under state law.

“Like so many others around our country, too many Garden State families know that guns and domestic violence are a deadly mix. New Jersey’s domestic violence survivors, advocates and public safety officials have long called for bipartisan solutions like this one that will protect vulnerable families by closing the loopholes that let domestic abusers have easy access to guns,” said Robin Lloyd, State Legislative Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We applaud Senate President Sweeney and Majority Leader Weinberg for doing the responsible thing and working to ensure that politics do not get in the way of this life-saving bill becoming law. We look forward to working with them, community leaders and domestic violence prevention advocates from across New Jersey to ensure this long overdue change becomes law.”

“Ceasefire NJ has been a leader in advocating for sensible steps to prevent gun violence for many years. This legislation is a critical gun violence prevention measure to prevent gun violence in domestic violence situations. Governor Christie’s veto is outrageous, especially in light of the mass shooting in Orlando. We call on all members of the Legislature to support this override. Partisan politics should be set aside when we are faced with growing gun violence,” said Dolores Phillips, Legislative Director of CeaseFire-NJ, a project of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

“New Jersey’s state senators deserve praise for continuing their efforts to pass legislation that will prevent dangerous domestic abusers from accessing guns. We should never play politics when it comes to the safety of Garden State women and families,” said Brett Sabo of Moms Demand Action – New Jersey Chapter. “Senate Bill 805 would put in place a clear process for convicted domestic abusers and those subject to a final domestic violence restraining order to turn in their firearms when they become prohibited. That’s simply common sense policy. Thousands of members of Moms Demand Action in New Jersey stand with these leaders in their efforts ahead to make this bill a law.”