On Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill that restricts the gun rights of people accused of domestic violence. The new law requires people who are under a domestic violence restraining order to surrender their legally-owned firearms for the duration of the order or for two years — whichever time period is longer. The text of the new law states:

any restraining order issued by the court shall bar the defendant from purchasing, owning, possessing or controlling a firearm and from receiving or retaining a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun pursuant to N.J.S.2C:58-3 during the period in which the restraining order is in effect or two years, whichever is greater. (Emphasis added.)

In New Jersey, there are two flavors of restraining orders: a temporary restraining order (TRO), which lasts ten days, and a final restraining order, issued at a hearing during the TRO period, and which can be indefinite in duration.

Remember: restraining orders are pre-trial orders — the person subject to them has not had a trial, let alone been convicted of anything yet.

As such, the standard of proof for that has to be met for restraining orders is lower than generally required in a criminal trial. The TRO requires a bare allegation. In New Jersey, the accuser can, literally, phone it in.

The Final Restraining Order requires that the elements of the alleged offense be proved by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which, one New Jersey criminal defense attorney describes as “a standard that has often been explained as being met where ‘it is more likely than not’ that the elements [of the alleged offense] have been satisfied.” This is a lower bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that a prosecutor must meet in a criminal trial.

If you have a TRO imposed against you due to allegations of domestic violence, and at the later hearing, the judge decides that the “preponderance of the evidence” standard has not been met by the accuser and does not grant a Final Restraining Order, under this new law, you’ll still be barred from possessing a firearm for two years.

Also: under New Jersey law, a restraining order cannot be lifted even by mutual agreement between the two parties. Consent of the protected party is just one factor the courts consider.

This is rather destructive toward the civil right to keep and bear arms, as protected under the Second Amendment.

Domestic violence laws are a thorny issue for civil libertarians of any stripe. The problem is that humanity is what it is. When a romantic or familial relationship goes sour, and peoples’ perception of themselves come into play, emotions start running high. People are more prone to destructive acts.

The best thing is to separate everyone as soon as possible, which is difficult when they live together. That’s why the whole TRO process exists. When cohabitating family members are alleging violence, an emotional excrement-storm may be brewing, and time may very well be of the essence.

Because time is prioritized, however, the whole TRO process allows for abuse by the malicious. It’s sort of baked-into the whole process, but is, in theory, constrained by the temporary nature of the order. Under this new law, the accused’s civil rights are denied for seven hundred twenty days, even if a judge finds the allegations to be meritless on day ten.

This is not justice in any sense of the word, and any politician dedicated to that cause so oft-honored in the breach would never have enacted this bill in the first place, or would have limited its civil rights suspensions to a far more reasonable time frame.

Humanity is what it is, unfortunately, and New Jersey’s government doesn’t contain many particularly shining examples of it. There’s simply no political profit in defending the rights of people (mostly men) accused of violence against their domestic partners (mostly women), particularly by the (mostly male) politicians in Trenton. It’s a tough sell. It makes you look bad. It helps you lose elections.

The upshot of this is: don’t expect this law to change any time soon. It’ll be up to the courts to fix this one. And let’s be honest: it will be a while before someone with standing has a chance to win this one on appeal.

43 Responses to New Jersey’s New Domestic Violence Law Grabs Accused’s Guns for Two Years

  1. How about, upon issuance of a TRO, the person requesting it gets an immediate class on how to safely handle a firearm, a carry permit, a loaner gun and box of ammo from the local PD, access to the local pd’s training range, and a discount on a 10-day stay at a hotel near the PD station. If the TRO converts to an FRO, the person can purchase the gun at a discount. Then we can start the due-process chain for confiscation of firearms if need be.

    • That is an absolutely awful idea. When the NJ government issued the very first “loaner gun”, hundreds of people in every state would drop dead of the shock.

    • Some of the people who try to get restraining orders are the batshit crazy violent ones. I don’t think those people should be given guns. Sane people abused by their spouses, sure.

      Hard to tell which is which without first having a hearing first, which is the biggest problem with this NJ law. Denying any American (and plenty of people who aren’t) the right to any legally owned property without due process of law is unconstitutional. A TRO is not due process. That’s why they only last ten days and there has to be another hearing. It’s an emergency order.

      If I was a judge in NJ (even just a trial judge), I would strike this law down because it is unconstitutional on its face without even bringing up the 2A.

    • And why I would never visit much less live in New Jersey.

      Okay, I would live in New Jersey for one year if someone paid me $2 million or more to do it. Otherwise, no dice.

  2. COLUMBO: Oh… Just one more thing, sir. Why did you kill her?

    CRIMINAL: Well, the b**** stole my gun collection.

    • Please define the female that the suspect allegedly killed for stealing his firearms. Is that female his wife, the female cop who showed up to enforce the provisions of the temporary restraining order, or his female legislator who voted for this abomination?

  3. Well at least New Jersey is consistent in their hatred of the constitution. I was worried they only hated the 2nd Amendment….but clearly they despise the 5th as well.

  4. Washington State has passed a similar bill. (Thanks Seattle) the victim (gun owner) doesn’t have to be informed of the hearing that seizes his guns. In fact the first notice could be when SWAT beats on his door. He been judged to be a danger and has a gun. What else would you do?
    There is no consequences for a false report. Many domestic disputes often reconcile. The seized guns? Nope, they are still gone.

  5. Ah, the Garden State: where gun rights go to die.

    I did not enjoy my 5 year stay there. I also may have forgotten to adhere to certain “guidelines”….. Maybe not.

  6. Told ya so. And it’s only Jan.10th, at that!

    Had this statist, officious, anti-constitutional slug/thug been elected president (or been appointed Trump’s AG….), he would already be conferring with Obama on new gun grabbing executive orders and legislation.

  7. Anyone who remains in New York City’s garbage dump is clearly too insane to own guns, knives, automobiles, blunt objects, toilet chemicals . . . .

    • My wife and two kids are so conditioned that if they ever hear somebody mention that they are from New Jersey we all whisper under our breath….

      ….Go back to Jersey you moron!

      Couldn’t even remember where phrase came from…GIYF….. the movie Scrooged.

      We all snicker and look at each other and smile. Our little family secret.

  8. Shouldn’t be long before the Constitutionality of this law is brought up. Then again, it is the State of New Jersey…

  9. I’ve been saying this all along: Christie is a RINO and does not support the 2A. He’s perfectly fine with the status quo in NJ and has done nothing to help ease the insane gun laws. The only reason he pardoned a few people who ran afoul of those gun laws is for political gain. It was nothing more than an attempt to score a few points with conservative voters in other states. Had he not been running for office, there’s no way he would have done anything like that. The fact that he signed this back-door gun grabbing bill is more proof.

    Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse for NJ gun owners (and folks in general). The next governor will be a Democrat (of the socialist commie variety) and will try to get as many anti-gun bills passed as possible. The government will grow in other aspects as well, and life in NJ will only get worse. I can’t wait for NJ.com to publish more articles, with absolutely zero sense of irony, wondering why more people flee NJ than any other state.

    • “… more people flee NJ than any other state.”

      Have a citation for that because I think you are incorrect?

      Also relevant, is New Jersey’s population on the decline?

      • I replied to you but I think that comment is pending moderation due to the enclosed link. Just search for United Van Lines 2016 national movers study, scroll to the bottom. I think this is the 2nd or 3rd year straight where NJ is either #1 or in the top 3.

      • From the survey:

        Moving Out: The top outbound states for 2016 were:

        1. New Jersey
        2. Illinois
        3. New York
        4. Connecticut
        5. Kansas
        6. Kentucky
        7. West Virginia
        8. Ohio
        9. Utah
        10.Pennsylvania

    • And to think, Christie actually believed that he could win the presidency based on his “conservative” political record. In this ruling, we can see him for what he is: a minor regional politician with absolutely no chance for national office. Unless of course he decides he’s really a Democrat.

  10. “Domestic violence laws are a thorny issue for civil libertarians of any stripe. . . . ” And, such infringements on the right to arms are extremely difficult for we PotG to address.

    Let’s see the politics clearly here. Such guns in the context of domestic violence laws are baiting the sharks for gun controllers. Just as soon as we PotG raise any objections the gun-controllers will accuse us of being tolerant of violence against women. Nothing could be further from the truth; nevertheless, such are the appearances.

    The 2-year mandatory minimum facet of this particular law is a CHOICE opportunity for us to stand-up in defense of the 2A. What is the justification for one’s rights to be suspended for 2 years AFTER an impartial judge has determined that the basis for the action is unfounded? Shall we suspend a defendant’s right to remain silent for 2 years after a judge has determined that an indictment is unfounded?

    We ought to beseech President Trump to instruct his Attorney General to create a bureau to investigate and prosecute States and municipalities for violating the civil rights of the People without due-process of law. Beginning with the most egregious cases (such as this one) the Federal circuits and SCOTUS will begin to develop a jurisprudence of Constitutional rights that is as vigorous as it deserves to be.

  11. Since he got passed over as Attorney General, Chrisite is in #FuckIt mode and will sign every anti gun bill he can get because he’s always been anti gun. It was a facade the whole time and this fat M&M eating blubbergut is the very definition of a politician.

    And he’ll get a show on Fox News by the end of the year. He’ll come out as a woman, put on a blonde wig, and call himself Megyn Christie.

  12. “This is not justice in any sense of the word …”

    Progressives have no interest in justice. All they care about is what they want. Everyone else can go to re-education camps for all they care.

    • To be fair, that’s not entirely true. They believe in Social Justice, or what they deem as best for society as a whole. Individual rights be damned.

  13. “Humanity is what it is, unfortunately, and New Jersey’s government doesn’t contain many particularly shining examples of it.”

    Oh, New Jersey’s government is chock full of shining examples of humanity … precisely the kind of humanity which required that the Framers add the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

  14. Unintended consequences of revoking civil rights of armed citizens without due process:

    Who’s going to enforce it?
    In the only state where I can shoot anybody in a police uniform without worrying about endangering human life?

    All it takes is one victim who values his Rights more than his life, and New Jersey’s biggest violent crime gang is going to have a very bad day.

  15. And this was one of the reasons that one the 17 person list of Presidential candidates during the primary, ol Chris Christie was dead last.

  16. On this 5th day of the week Thursday
    I visited the state of New Jersey
    I must leave this town
    Because Governor Christie’s a clown
    Who gives gun owners no remorse or mercy

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