June 25, 2015– Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), and Garden State domestic violence prevention groups applauded leaders in the New Jersey legislature today after the bipartisan vote in the State Senate approving a bill (A4218/S2786) that establishes effective procedures that will provide guidance and assurance to law enforcement, victims, and advocates to help limit abusers’ access to guns.
The bill, which had previously been approved by the New Jersey State Assembly in a bipartisan vote, now heads to Governor Chris Christie’s desk.
“As in so many communities around our country, guns and domestic violence in New Jersey can be a deadly, tragic mix. So in the face of calls for action from New Jersey’s domestic violence survivors, advocates and public safety officials, Republicans and Democrats came together to deliver a real victory for common sense: a bipartisan bill that would help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and protect vulnerable women and their families,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “I hope to see Governor Christie sign this commonsense bill into law and help make New Jersey a safer place to live.”
“This bill will help to strengthen our current firearms legislation that seeks to prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from maintaining and gaining access to firearms that put victims’ lives in danger,” said the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women. “Victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed by a current or former abusive partner when the perpetrator of violence owns a firearm. From 2003 to 2012, 30.5 percent, nearly one third of victims of intimate partner homicide in New Jersey were killed by guns. By providing guidance to the courts and law enforcement this bill will help to address gaps that currently exist to improve upon the process with which firearms are seized, to ensure law enforcement access records documenting perpetrators’ firearm purchases and ownership, and to support information shared with victims allowing them to enhance their safety plans.”
“The time has come for each of us to become a strong voice in our community for victims of domestic violence – in speaking out to protect their lives and the safety of their children and by limiting access to firearms for individuals who have demonstrated a history of family violence,” said Nancy Hutchinson, Program Supervisor Camden County Women’s Center.
A4218 / S2786 will strengthen New Jersey’s laws and help protect domestic violence survivors by:
- Requiring domestic abusers to surrender all of their guns if a domestic violence restraining order is in effect, or if they’re convicted of a domestic violence offense;
- Suspending the gun purchaser ID cards and permits of abusers;
- Revoking such cards if an abuser is convicted of a domestic violence crime; and,
- Requiring the cross-checking of records to determine if an abuser owns a firearm.
In the last two years, similar bills addressing the often lethal mix of domestic abuse and access to firearms have been embraced by leaders from both parties in a number of states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Nationally, women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.