A New Jersey lawmaker is pushing a plan to allow domestic violence victims the ability to protect themselves if they feel threatened.

Assemblyman Robert Auth, R-Bergen, has introduced a measure, A1397, that would give top priority to applicants for firearms identification cards and permits when they have a domestic violence restraining order.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to give law-abiding citizens every opportunity to protect the lives of themselves and their children if that’s something that they need to be worried about,” he said.

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He said when couples are breaking up there can be very emotional and highly charged disagreements over child custody and living arrangements.

“All of this stuff comes to a boiling point somewhere along the line and people go over the top," Auth said. '"I can understand completely why somebody would feel somewhere along the line that they would need that kind of protection for themselves.”

Do domestic violence victims need guns?

Nicole Morella, director of public policy and communications for the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, said her organization believes domestic violence victims and survivors should have access to whatever tools they may need to stay safe and feel safer.

She also was quick to point out, however, that “there is little research that demonstrates that victims are actually safer when we increase their access to firearms.”

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She noted there is data showing a correlation between access to firearms and risk to victims in domestic violence cases. Morella said victims are five times more likely to be killed by their partner when there is a presence of a firearm, regardless of who owns or is in possession of the weapon.

She stressed while it’s necessary for victims of domestic violence to have options to protect themselves, it’s also important to be “providing survivors with the information they need so they can make those decisions in a safe way, ensuring that they have the training and the education they need.”

Front of the line

Auth said his measure is important because normally it’s supposed to take 30 days to get approved to purchase a firearm in New Jersey, but he’s heard “all sorts of stories" about people sometimes waiting up to nine months.

The measure is being considered by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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