August 1, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), today applauded the New Jersey State Senate’s bipartisan compromise agreement (S2483) that would help limit domestic abusers’ access to guns and protect domestic violence survivors.
The bill, which passed the State Senate unanimously, now goes to the New Jersey State Assembly.
“This agreement is a real victory for responsibility that will make New Jersey families safer, and it represents the kind of bipartisan approach to preventing gun tragedies that our communities need. I’m grateful to New Jersey’s legislators for doing the responsible thing and voting to make the Garden State a safer place to live,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “I want to thank Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean and Senator Jennifer Beck for their leadership and for listening to New Jersey’s community leaders and domestic violence prevention advocates who have urged their elected officials in Trenton to help protect families from abusers with guns.”
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.
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.
BACKGROUND ON THE NEXUS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DATING PARTNER ABUSE, STALKING, AND ACCESS TO FIREARMS
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]
Guns and Domestic Abuse Are A Deadly Mix: Abused women in the United States are five times more likely to be killed by their abusers 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 personal 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 live 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 the last two 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 Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Delaware.
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]