Domestic abusers and guns: After Orlando, will Republicans override Christie? | Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
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on June 20, 2016

A woman writes a note on a cross at a memorial with wooden crosses for each of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub, next to the Orlando Regional Medical Center.

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Democrats are making another push to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers that will require a first-ever override of Gov. Christie's opposition.

We can only hope the Orlando shooting has changed the politics. "If that doesn't send a signal that we need to do more to protect our citizens, I don't know what does," Senate President Steve Sweeney said.  

This bill, you may recall, would force those convicted of domestic violence or subject to restraining orders to surrender their guns and their permits to buy new ones. It would also require a more robust investigation to determine whether someone accused of domestic abuse already owns a gun, in order to make sure it's confiscated.

When Christie vetoed the bill in May, he proposed a rewrite that would instead expedite the permit process for domestic abuse victims seeking to arm themselves. But as Sen. Loretta Weinberg rightly points out, that ignores the real problem: The guns already out there, in the hands and homes of abusers.

The existence of a gun in a home makes it five times more likely that a domestic violence incident will turn into a murder scene, according to a 2003 study in the American Journal of Health. And study after study shows that women are almost always the victims.

Orlando also demonstrates another reason why we need to do something about domestic abusers. The shooter wasn't just a professed admirer of ISIS; he had a history of violence against his ex-wife. As it turns out, that's not unusual.

There's a giant overlap between domestic abusers and people who go on shooting rampages, according to a fascinating new analysis in the New York Times. More than half of mass shootings are related to domestic violence.

The psychological profile of someone who kills a spouse is very similar to that of a mass shooter, experts say. Both are seeking control and dominance, and using violence to enforce it. Men who desire control over the women in their lives may also be particularly receptive to recruitment by the Islamic State, which advertises strict gender roles and violence to enforce them and preserve men's "honor."

The correlation between domestic and mass violence only underscores why we need to make it impossible for known abusers to get their hands on guns. Republicans helped pass this bill with broad bipartisan support. Now, stop being lapdogs, and get ready to override Christie.

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