Recent changes were added to New Jersey’s domestic violence statutes. The changes are intended to enhance protections for domestic violence victims by restricting access to firearms by a person convicted of a domestic violence crime or subject to a domestic violence restraining order.
Specifically, the amended statutes require the sentencing court to inform defendants convicted of a domestic violence crime or offense that they are prohibited from possessing a firearm or obtaining a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun. The court is now required to order the defendant to arrange for the immediate surrender of firearms, firearms purchaser identification cards, and permits to purchase a handgun to a law enforcement officer. The defendant is given five days from the date of conviction to arrange to sell a surrendered firearm to a licensed firearms dealer; the dealer has 10 days after the date of the order to take possession of the firearm from the law enforcement agency to which it was surrendered. If the firearm is not purchased by a retail dealer within 10 days, it is subject to forfeiture; if it is purchased by a dealer, it becomes part of the dealer’s inventory.
It would be interesting to know how many firearms dealers or their delegates lobbied for these provisions regarding the forced sale of firearms. It would seem that dealers stand to benefit from sale prices well below the market value when the only alternative is for the forced seller to receive no money when the firearm is forfeited within five days. The counter argument is that competition amongst dealers would keep the prices up. However, there are rural areas of New Jersey without local firearms dealers. Moreover, many dealers may not desire to get involved with a relatively rushed sale where they may not have adequate time to inspect and appraise the firearm at issue.