NJ measure proposes taking guns from abusers

 Representatives of women’s groups testify in favor of the gun-control measure at an Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee hearing. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Representatives of women’s groups testify in favor of the gun-control measure at an Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee hearing. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

In an effort to better protect victims of domestic violence, a New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation strengthening New Jersey’s gun laws.

Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera said her bill requires abusers to surrender their firearms while a domestic violence restraining order is in effect or when they’re convicted of a domestic violence offense.

“Weapons and domestic violence are a lethal combination,” said Mosquera, D-Camden. “A woman is five times more likely to be murdered by her intimate partner if there is a gun in the home than if there is not.”

Abusers regularly use firearms to control victims of domestic violence, according to Nicole Morella with the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women.

“They’re often used to intimidate victims and prevent them from leaving abusive relationships,” Morella said. “It’s often a tool that’s used to prevent them from reporting abusive situations to police, and it’s often a tool that’s used to convince and coerce victims into dropping charges or to dismiss restraining orders.”

Deb Huber, president of the National Organization for Women’s New Jersey chapter, supports the measure.

“Once there is a pattern of violence established in a relationship, the guns must be removed from the home,: she said. “The perpetrator of violence must not have access to a weapon.”

But Darren Goens with the National Rifle Association said the bill could have unintended consequences.

“We’re very concerned that a husband and wife will have a dispute that’s not violent, and a temporary restraining order is issued, and a person’s lifelong legal firearm collection is confiscated over this,” Goens said.

Opponents say the legislation should apply only to violent offenders.

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