In March of this year, UULMNJ Executive Director, Rev. Craig Hirshberg met in Trenton with former US Rep. Gabby Giffords, NJ Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, and other New Jersey lawmakers to work on important legislation that would take guns out of the hands of dangerous domestic violence offenders.
Why is this so important? A woman is 5 times more likely to be murdered by an intimate partner if there is a gun in the house. Of the female homicides reported in New Jersey in 2011, more than half of them were committed by intimate partners and a third involved the use of a firearm. A report released in 2011 by the New Jersey State Police found that between the years of 2007 and 2011 there were 212 domestic homicides, with a peek of 57 in 2008. There were 2,962 total arrests involving domestic violence restraining orders reported by police in 2011. Of these, 1,804 were arrests for violations of a restraining order only, while 1,158 were arrests for violations of a restraining order with an offense arrest. Children were involved or present during 31 percent of all domestic violence offenses.
The bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex) and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D- Camden) to strengthen New Jersey’s gun laws and protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence was approved Thursday, June 25, by both houses of the Legislature, with a 29-1 vote in the state Senate and 49-11 with 19 abstentions in the Assembly.
Among other provisions, the bill (S-2786/A-4218) 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.
Under current law, the above are provisions the Courts CAN take but are not required. The new legislation tightens that gap and closing a potential loophole.
This bill now sits on Gov. Christie’s desk, awaiting his signature. The Governor has refused to sign many gun control bills that have been passed in the last two years. He needs to hear from New Jerseyans! Remind Governor Christie that he still has a job to do in his home state. Write the governor now and urge him to sign bill A4218!