Should domestic violence abusers be allowed to own guns?
Bill A4218 proposed in February of 2015 in the New Jersey State Assembly will for anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence offense to sell their firearms or turn them over to the police within 24 hours of their conviction. The bill hasn’t made it into law yet, but In June 1st it was approved by the public safety committee with some minor amendments. A convicted abuser will still turn their guns over in 24 hours but would have five days to sell them.
The bill’s goals are:
- Lowers crime rates. If there is no gun in the house there is a lower chance of someone getting shot because of domestic violence.
- Promotes safety. The argument is that children will be safer because there aren’t guns in the house.
- Eliminates some of the fear. The argument is by removing the gun the victim doesn’t have to fear of getting shot by her abuser.
- It’s all encompassing. The bill covers all forms of domestic violence, whether violent (assault charges) or non-violent (stalking or harassment charges). The argument is by an abuser is mentally unstable and more likely to go from non-violent to violent offender.
Here is my problem with this bill
In principal, this bill tried to do a societal good, namely protect victims from further abuse. The problem is it’s the wrong bill. Every temporary and final restraining order I have seen orders already includes a prohibition from owning weapons. It is possible that there are Judges in other parts of the state that don’t routinely require this, but I have never seen such an order.
The focus shouldn’t be on owning a gun or a knife or other weapon. If an abuser wants to hurt someone, they will find another way to do so. The focus should be on prevention and education, not on prophylactic measures. I am not sure what this bill actually accomplishes. Sure, it goes further by invaliding an abuser’s license and requiring officers to collect information form victims regarding any weapons they know of, but this does this really protect the victim?
This is one of those bills which sound great. Who is going to vote against a bill trying to stop domestic violence? But in practice, this bill does little to stop domestic violence.
As of June 25, 2015 the bill has passed by Houses of the New Jersey Legislature. We will see what Gov. Christie will do with it.
If you aren’t sure what constitutes domestic violence, in this article I include some signs. If you need help for Domestic violence, go to this article. Keep in mind that if the abuser is a close family relative and you are an immigrant you may qualify for a green card under the Violence Against Women’s Act. Otherwise, you may qualify for legal status under the U-Visa
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