Lawmakers Consider Tougher Gun Laws for Domestic Violence Offenders

By Briana Vannozzi

Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera says imposing tougher gun laws for domestic violence offenders comes down to one simple goal.

“Increase the compliance of making sure that guns are turned over,” Mosquera said.

Mosquera’s bill would allow victims to report any firearms that haven’t already been seized by law enforcement to a court for removal. It’ll also give victims the right to begin the process of having a defendant’s firearms ID cards and purchase permits revoked — all before the case has been resolved.

“They can talk to someone and let someone know that yes there are firearms in the home. And then as a result of that, either a hearing officer or a judge that would the necessary steps to make sure that those firearms are safely removed from the home,” Mosquera said.

“It fails to distinguish between someone who’s committed actual physical violence and someone who has committed a nonviolent act that also is defined within the definition of domestic violence,” said Scott Bach.

Gun rights advocates say the bill misses the mark because New Jersey’s definition of domestic abuse is too broad.

“An act of domestic violence in New Jersey can be more than an actual act of physical violence. For example, annoying a spouse in a verbal argument is considered an act of domestic violence,” Bach said.

The state already prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence or served with a restraining order from owning a firearm. And law enforcement can confiscate guns from a home at the outset of a dispute call. But Mosquera says that typically only applies to guns that are easily visible. Her mother was a victim of domestic violence and for her, the issue is personal.

“I was told that a woman who lives in a home is five times more at risk to be killed by an intimate partner if there are firearms in the house,” Mosquera said. “Five times more likely to be at risk.”

“I want it clear our organization thinks anyone who commits actual physical violence should be punished severely and should have no access to firearms. Unfortunately this bill doesn’t even deal with punishment, it deals in a hyper regulatory environment that seems obsessed with regulation of people just because they happen to own firearms whether they’ve committed a violent act or a non-violent act” Bach said.

Many of the advocates say the state is quick to make new laws, but fails to find ways to enforce them.