N.J. lawmakers try again on law to keep firearms away from violent abusers

An exhibitor displays a .45 cal Smith & Wesson pistol. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

An exhibitor displays a .45 cal Smith & Wesson pistol. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

A bill that would create a statewide procedure to seize guns of domestic abusers is advancing through the New Jersey Legislature.

The measure requires a violent abuser to turn in firearms when a restraining order is in effect. And police responding to violent incidents would be able to seize guns from homes.

Scott Bach, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, said violent abuse of a domestic partner is inexcusable, but that the bill isn’t tough enough.

“This focuses in great detail almost obsessively on creating a regulatory scheme that affects only gun owners,” said Bach. “There are lots of tools inside the home that could be used to commit that domestic violence and this bill would do nothing to stop them.”

Removing guns from the homes of convicted abusers is vital to saving lives, said Theresa Turner with the group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense.

“I can tell you if somebody is coming after me with a knife or a lead pipe, I would either try to fight for my life or run for my life,” she said. “Maybe I would survive, and maybe I wouldn’t, but at least I would have a fighting chance. There is no running away from a bullet.”

Violent abusers should not have firearms, said Darren Goens with the National Rifle Association, but he said state and federal laws already guarantee that.

“The only reason that I’m opposing the bill is for a very small subset of those individuals who are falsely accused and later adjudicated,” Goens said. “At the end of the day, they should have their property returned, their rights restored, and they shouldn’t be charged for the storage of their firearms.”

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed similar legislation last year, saying it restates existing laws.

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