Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Law Limits Domestic Violence Offenders' Access to Firearms

How does New Jersey enforce domestic violence laws?

In January, New Jersey Gov, Chris Christie signed into law a measure that limits access to firearms for individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence offenses or are under restraining orders. This move comes after the governor vetoed an earlier version of the bill last May.

While that measure had bi-partisan support, Christie proposed a workaround that would have expedited the permit process for survivors of domestic abuse who sought to obtain a gun for their own protection. After threatening to override the veto, lawmakers crafted a revised bill (S2483) that bans convicted domestic violence offenders and others under a restraining order from possessing firearms and requires them to surrender or sell their weapons.

Gov. Christie said in a statement that "survivors of domestic violence will be safe than ever before,"

According to some observers, however, his record in this regard on gun control is mixed. Case in point: During his first term in office, Christie proposed banning sales of .50 caliber rifles in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, but dropped his support of the ban during his short lived presidential campaign after being pressured by gun rights advocates. He also reportedly said that the state's gun laws would have been loosened if Republicans controlled the legislature.

Nonetheless, the reworked version of the law includes provisions that increase penalties for domestic violence offenses, with maximums for repeat offenders. The measure had the backing of former U.S. Rep Gabby Giffords who was shot several years ago at a political event in Arizona. Gifford and her husband, retired  astronaut Mark Giffords, are gun control activists.

"Today, the Garden State has become a safer place to live," they said in a statement.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can occur in any relationship whether by a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, relative or roommate. This crime can include harassment, assault, terroristic threats and sexual abuse. If you have been victimized emotionally, physically or sexually, you should immediately call law enforcement. It is also crucial to ask the court for an Order of Protection to ensure your safety. On the other hand, if you are facing domestic violence charges, you should retain a criminal defense attorney.

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