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Domestic violence laws changing in New Jersey

New Jersey is working toward legislation that would make it harder for those convicted of domestic violence to own firearms. The bill, known as A4218, will cover protecting these victims of domestic violence. Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords visited this state in March and advocated for the bill at that time.

The law would instruct judges to order any person convicted of domestic violence to either surrender their guns to law enforcement or to sell them to dealers within 24 hours of their conviction. Laws that ban those convicted of domestic violence from owning guns are already on the books. This new law would help to enforce that law. It would also appear to apply to those that are subject to a protective order regarding domestic violence, even if no conviction has occurred and no physical violence actually occurred.

Giffords, from Arizona, said in March that dangerous people owning guns is a woman's issue. This is because most victims of domestic violence are women. Therefore, women need to lead the way in ensuring these types of laws are passed and enforced.

However, others in the state fear that these laws will only enforce the harassment of law abiding gun owners. They fear that an accusation without the proof for a conviction will open the door for harassment. It is also argued that 24 hours is not long enough to find an open gun dealer and sell the guns. If no open dealer is found, the gun owner would have to forfeit his or her guns to the police without payment.

Those who are victims of domestic violence are often afraid to step forward and make an accusation. However, attorneys in New Jersey are available to represent those victims in court and may be able to help them get an order of protection with regard to their abuser. An order of protection can help victims feels safer in their own homes and to move about the community. It remains to be seen if the proposed law will add to the safeguards already in place.

Source: nj.com, "N.J. gun control bill promoted by Gabby Giffords to get hearing", Matt Friedman, May 29, 2015

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