Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords & Captain Mark Kelly Applaud the Passage of a Bipartisan, Commonsense Bill That Closes Gaps in New Jersey Law and Helps Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

January 9, 2017 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), applauded the signing of a new bipartisan, commonsense bill (S2483) into law that establishes effective procedures that will help limit domestic abusers’ access to guns by providing guidance and assurance to law enforcement, survivors, and advocates.

“Today, the Garden State became a safer place to live. This is a real victory for the kind of common sense and bipartisanship that our country needs a lot more of. We are grateful to leaders from both parties who sent this responsible proposal to Governor Christie’s desk – and we are grateful to Governor Christie for signing this life-saving legislation,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “We also want to say thank you to all of the Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters, community leaders, and domestic violence prevention advocates in New Jersey who urged their elected officials in Trenton to help protect women and families from abusers’ with guns.”

“The inspiration provided by Congresswoman Giffords encouraged us to act, and the invaluable support of Americans for Responsible Solutions helped us to find a solution to protect the victims of domestic violence,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean. “I want to thank Governor Chris Christie and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg for their partnership and leadership to enact these sensible reforms. We ended up with a practical solution that undoubtedly will save lives.”

“I am glad to see this common sense bill finally passed into law. I would like to thank Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly for their leadership and support on this issue. I would also like to thank the Governor for signing the bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

“The enactment of this landmark legislation will prevent domestic abusers from committing acts of gun violence,” said Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11). “We are thankful for the support and great inspiration provided by Gabby Giffords to enact these reforms that will protect our most vulnerable residents from harm. We’ve succeeded in closing a dangerous loophole and delivering on our promise to safeguard families from domestic abusers with access to firearms.”

“I am thrilled the Governor finally signed this piece of legislation. 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 Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “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.”

Nearly one in four women in the US have suffered at the hands of an intimate partner, and having a gun in a house makes it five times more likely that a domestic assault will turn into murder. These numbers are more than just statistics, they are real lives lost every day to domestic violence,” said Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington).Commonsense, bipartisan solutions like this one keeps our neighborhoods safer, and I could not be more proud to see a victory like this for New Jersey’s women and families.”

In March 2015, Congresswoman Giffords joined New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera and leaders in New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention community at an event at the New Jersey State House to urge legislators to pass laws that help protect women and families from gun violence. Since 2015, Americans for Responsible Solutions has worked with New Jersey leaders in both parties to craft and advance legislation like S2483.

The agreement will strengthen New Jersey’s laws and help protect domestic violence survivors by:

  • Requiring abusers who are convicted of domestic violence to surrender their firearms and provide a receipt and affidavit to the court demonstrating that they have done so;

  • Updating the restraining order form to allow victims to list if the alleged abuser owns a firearm;

  • Empowering law enforcement to seize firearms from domestic abusers; and,

  • Enhancing penalties for certain very serious crimes of domestic violence.

ABOUT THE NEXUS OF GUN VIOLENCE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Women in the United States Are Eleven Times More Likely to be Murdered with a Gun than Women in Other Developed Countries. More than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. [Centers for Disease Control, 2012] More than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1980 and 2008 were killed with firearms. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011] In 2013, a gun was the most commonly used weapon in a murder of a woman by a man. [Violence Policy Center, 2015]

Abused Women in the United States are Five Times More Likely to be Killed by Their Abuser if That Individual has Access to a Gun.[Centers for Disease Control, 2012]

Nearly Half of Murders by an Intimate Partner Are Committed by a Dating Partner – but the “Boyfriend Gap” in Federal Law Lets Abusive Dating Partners Access Guns: From 2009 to 2010, 48.6 percent of all intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011] Current federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses from accessing firearms, including individuals who are a current or former spouse, parent, parent of a child in common, current or former cohabitant, or a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim. But federal law does not include perpetrators who abused current or former dating partners from accessing guns. With more women choosing to marry later in life and living in non-cohabitating dating relationships, this gap leaves a significant number of abusers free to access firearms. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Stalking is a Strong Predictor of Future Violence – but the “Stalker Gap” in Federal Law Lets Some Convicted Stalkers Access Guns: Stalking is a strong precursor to escalating violence. One study of female murder victims in ten cities found that 76 percent of women murdered and 85 percent who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. [Homicide Studies, 1999] Under current federal law, individuals convicted of felony stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing guns. But individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not prohibited from accessing guns. Closing the “stalker gap” in federal law would help ensure that all individuals convicted of stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing firearms. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

In the Face of Inaction in Congress, Blue, Purple and Red States are Enacting Laws to Close these Loopholes and Limit Abusers’ and Stalkers’ Access to Guns. While each state has taken a distinct approach to strengthening laws that address gun violence against women, state leaders are addressing major gaps in federal law to help protect vulnerable women and families. At least 12 states have updated their laws to prohibit people convicted of violent misdemeanors against dating partners from possessing firearms. And 25 states prohibit gun possession by at least some people subject to protective orders for dating partners. In recent years, leaders from both parties have enacted legislation addressing the often lethal mix of domestic violence and access to firearms in a number of states, including AlabamaLouisiana, NevadaOregonSouth CarolinaVermontWashington, and Wisconsin.

Americans from Both Parties Support Legislation Limiting Abusers’ and Stalkers’ Access to Guns. According to research conducted in June 2015, 82 percent of Americans – including 82 percent of Republicans – say they would support legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers. [Public Policy Polling]