March 9, 2016:
The New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider S805, revising the state's domestic violence laws, on Thursday, March 10. This is the same misguided legislation that was passed by the legislature and vetoed by Governor Christie last year.
ANJRPC strongly condemns anyone who commits violent aggressive acts against a domestic partner, and believes that such a person should not have access to firearms, and should be punished as severely as possible. Federal law currently provides for this, and New Jersey's existing domestic violence law is already one of the toughest in the country.
On the surface, S805 seems well-intentioned. But instead of focusing on increasing the severity of punishment for those who commit actual violent acts, the legislation seems obsessed with harassing and intimidating anyone who owns firearms and is also accused of domestic violence, even where no actual violence has occurred - which is often the case under existing New Jersey law.
It comes as a surprise to many that under current New Jersey law, the grounds for a "domestic violence act" may be as minor as a verbal argument that purposely causes annoyance (harassment). A verbal argument with no violent act whatsoever can and frequently does result in seizure and forfeiture of firearms, and permanent loss of gun rights. There is even one infamous case where throwing pretzels resulted in a domestic violence claim.
Other similar types of non-violent acts that constitute "domestic violence" and can result in firearms forfeiture include staying in the home despite being asked to leave by a spouse who holds title to the home (criminal trespass); and scaring a spouse with a halloween mask (putting another in fear by physical menace). There are several others, and they arise on a regular basis in the Garden State.
Unfortunately S805, which appears to be part of a larger national agenda, fails to recognize that New Jersey law is unique in allowing minor non-violent acts to be classified as "domestic violence." It also fails to recognize that false allegations of domestic violence are sometimes made to gain advantage in divorce cases, or out of spite, without any consequence to the accuser. S805 facilitates the loss of Constitutional rights and seizure of firearms where no violent act was committed.
S805 is fundamentally flawed, and does nothing to empower domestic violence victims, or to severely punish those who commit actual violence. Inexplicably, the sponsors of S805 ignore alternative pending legislation like S1905, similar to last session's A4486, which would strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence by providing minimum terms of incarceration, with set periods of parole ineligibility, for any offenders who commit physically violent acts.
See ANJRPC's full position paper on S805 here.
Please immediately tell Members of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee to oppose S805 as written and instead support proposals that severely punish those who commit violent acts, and that hold accountable anyone who makes of false allegations of domestic violence.