Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Dan Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joe Danielsen and Shavonda Sumter to strengthen New Jersey's gun laws and protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday. The bill now heads to the governor's desk.
"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-1211) would:
- Require domestic abusers to surrender their firearms while a domestic violence restraining order is in effect, or when they are 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; and
- Require cross-referencing of records to assist in determining whether an alleged domestic abuser owns a firearm in order to assist law enforcement's ability to ensure that an abuser does not have access to firearms.
"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."
"We clearly need to do more to combat the scourge of domestic violence," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Domestic violence and guns are a frightening mix. We cannot stand idle while simple steps such as these can help protect women and children trapped in abusive situations. Keeping guns away from abusers will, quite simply, 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."
"Guns and violent behavior are a lethal combination," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Fatal violence against women is most often domestic violence. And the most common weapon used by men to kill women is a gun. This bill ensures that individuals who have shown a propensity for violence against women are prohibited from carrying guns and inflicting further damage to their victims."
"New Jersey must take a zero-tolerance stance on domestic violence," said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). "Responsible, law-abiding citizens have a Second Amendment right to own a gun. Domestic abusers forgo that right. This legislation will strengthen existing law by eliminating gaps to protect women and families in our state."
"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."
The bill was approved 50-17-7.