TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Robert Auth is pushing his bill prioritizing gun permits for domestic violence victims following Monday’s Assembly Judiciary Committee that considered measures to enhance survivor safety.
“The panel’s testimony focused on strengthening victim safety and that really resonated with me. There is an inability for government to intervene in a timely fashion and survivors are being threatened regardless of the action taken by the courts. We have to give victims every opportunity to protect themselves, which is why I hope my bill will be considered sooner rather than later,” Auth (R-Bergen) said.
Auth’s bill (A1397) expedites the background investigation for firearm or handgun applicants who have restraining orders against a domestic violence offender.
Auth said the compelling testimony of Patricia Perlmutter of Partners for Women and Justice, who spoke on a bill (A1463) that strengthens pre-trial no-contact orders and victim notification, was the impetus for bringing up his bill. While the organization doesn’t take an official position on weapon access, she said the most dangerous time for victims is when they decide to leave and that defendants are released so quickly after an arrest there is little to no buffer for victims.
“No-contact orders have been ignored by abusers and it can cost victims their life. A gun for self-defense makes a lot of sense and I want to make sure survivors of domestic violence seeking gun permits get put on the top of the pile. Perhaps defendants may think twice about violating a court order if they think their victims possess a firearm,” continued Auth.
According to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, programs saw a 40% to 70% increase in requests for help in the last quarter of 2020, when compared to 2019. One program recorded a 188% increase in the number of shelter nights provided to survivors and their children in the last quarter of 2020. The most up-to-date State Police data shows murders in domestic violence cases increased 3% from 2018 to 2019.
“My bill is about empowering survivors,” Auth said. “They deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are equipped to stop a deadly attack.”