TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Nia H. Gill and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to strengthen New Jersey’s gun laws and protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence was approved today by the full Assembly, sending it to the governor’s desk.
“Gun violence against women often stems from a domestic violence incident that escalates and turns tragic. Since we know that a woman is five times more likely to be murdered by her intimate partner if there is a firearm in the home, we have to take action,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “By creating a process for removing guns from the hands of abusers, we will better protect victims against preventable and too often fatal gun violence.”
“There is a very real link between domestic violence deaths and firearms that cannot be ignored. This bill will establish a process to require the surrender of firearms by abusers and will help safeguard domestic violence survivors against additional harm,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “This is the right thing to do to close a dangerous gap that exists in our laws and to better protect our residents.”
“Domestic violence incidents are taking place every day in New Jersey. The fact is that when a gun is in the home, the potential for the situation to take a fatal turn rises considerably,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Making sure that domestic violence abusers do not have access to firearms is critical to the effort to stop the tragic deaths that we have seen far too often in our state.”
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 state statistics. In 2013 alone, there were 44 domestic violence homicides in New Jersey, state statistics show.
Among its provisions, the bill (S-805) would:
- Require domestic abusers to turn over their firearms while a domestic violence restraining order is in effect, and require the seizure of firearms when an abuser is convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense;
- Require an abuser’s firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun to be suspended during domestic violence restraining orders;
- Require an abuser’s firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun to be revoked if the individual is convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense;
- 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 gun permit ineligible under state law;
- Provide that firearms seized in furtherance of a restraining order be returned to the defendant if the order is dismissed; and
- Require 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.
The Senate approved the bill in March by a vote of 30-3. The Assembly approved it 50-17-7.