TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that will better protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence, by removing firearms and firearms ID cards and purchaser permits from the hands of abusers, received final legislative approval today in the Assembly.
“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. It is already illegal for someone subject to a domestic violence restraining order or a convicted offender to possess a firearm, but there is a dangerous loophole in our law that leaves victims vulnerable to gun violence,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “This bipartisan bill will address the deficiencies in the law by putting in place a mechanism to take guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers. This will substantially strengthen enforcement of our current laws and create better protections for our residents.”
Under the bill (S2483), 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. The court would also order that firearms purchaser ID Cards and permits to purchase a handgun be turned over, and that the proper authorities be notified of the revocation.
Defendants would be required by the bill to attest under penalty that they surrendered or do not possess a firearm. The court would be permitted to order a search for and removal of firearms if there is probable cause that the defendant has failed to surrender firearms and would be required to state with specificity the reasons for and the scope of the search and seizure.
The bill also would protect domestic violence victims by specifying that the plaintiff may provide information concerning firearms to which the defendant has access, including the location of these firearms, if known, on a confidential form to be prescribed by the Administrative Director of the Courts.
Further, when a temporary restraining order requires the surrender of any firearm or other weapon and when a final restraining order is issued, the bill would require a law enforcement officer to accompany the defendant or proceed without the defendant if necessary to where the firearm or other weapon is located to ensure that the items are appropriately surrendered in accordance with the order. If the order prohibits the defendant from returning to a location where firearms or other weapons are located, any firearm or other weapon located there would be seized by a law enforcement officer.
Finally, the bill would further strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence by providing mandatory minimum terms of incarceration, with set periods of parole ineligibility, for offenders who commit physically violent acts.
“Protecting the lives of women and children in dangerous family situations must be our priority. This bill establishes important safeguards to ensure that firearms do not remain in the possession of abusers. It puts in place specific processes to remove guns from the home of a domestic violence offender or anywhere else they are stored, and provides for firearms ID cards and purchaser permits to be turned over to authorities. Taken together, these provisions will reduce the likelihood that a domestic violence situation will turn tragic,” added Senator Weinberg.
S2483 was approved in the Senate by a vote of 32-0, and in the Assembly by a vote of 60-2-9. The law would take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following enactment.