Christie Backs Gun Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence

     TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – Victims of domestic violence will be able to sidestep some regulatory hurdles to obtain gun permits under changes proposed Tuesday by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
     The Republican issued the directive Monday night to state Attorney General John Hoffman, saying victims of domestic abuse, those who have been threatened by a domestic partner, and those with restraining orders against another individual are entitled to obtain gun permits in less than 14 days.
     Permit applications otherwise face a 30-day wait period in the Garden State.
     Just hours before he officially announced his run for the presidency Tuesday, Christie also signed an executive order creating a three-member commission to study whether current state firearm restrictions limit citizens’ constitutional rights.
     “This commonsense step will protect the rights of victims and people at risk of violent acts by giving them priority, while ensuring the core protections of the permitting process remain fully in effect,” Christie said.
     Christie called his orders a reaction to the murder of Carol Browne on June 4.
     Browne died at the hospital hours after she was stabbed in her Berlin, N.J., front lawn, by ex-husband Michael Eitel.
     After a two-day manhunt, Eitel was found dead in another ex-girlfriend’s house. He had apparently hanged himself.
     Brown had had a restraining order against her ex-husband, and is said to have applied for a gun license. Her gun-permit application was reportedly delayed past the 30-day waiting period, during which she was killed.
     Executive Order No. 180 says “any needless or unreasonable delay in processing permit applications hinders the lawful and reasonable exercise of a constitutional right and the ability of individuals to bear arms for protection and self-defense.”
     The commission for which Christie called in the other executive order has 90 days once it is established to give the governor its recommendations.
     Christie’s background on gun control is mixed, but he has consistently said he supports a “commonsense” approach to the issue.
     On the one hand, he has spoken out in favor of tough gun laws and said in a 2009 interview with Sean Hannity that he didn’t want “an abundance of guns out there.” However, in 2013 he vetoed a ban on the powerful Barrett assault rifle and also directed his attorney general, John Hoffman, to abstain from defending state gun-control regulations against a legal challenge.
     The state Supreme Court had agreed to hear that case, which involved a Monmouth County man’s challenge to New Jersey’s legal requirement that people seeking gun permits show “justifiable need.” The state’s high court in 2014 decided to reverse its initial decision to hear that case.
     A separate guns-rights case on its way to the state Supreme Court meanwhile involves the attempt by Morris County prosecutors to revoke a former police officer’s gun license after a history of alleged domestic abuse.
     The court took up the case, which involves a former Roseland police detective listed in court documents as F.M., on May 22.
     F.M.’s service pistols and hunting knife were confiscated after his wife, G.M., filed a domestic-violence complaint in 2009, claiming that F.M. beat and threatened her.
     In counter-claims against the woman, F.M. alleges she followed him with a video camera after they separated, harassed him at work, and called him a racial epithet. The couple divorced in 2011.
     The weapons were eventually returned, but Morris County prosecutors have reportedly argued that F.M. should not have his guns because of his tumultuous former marriage.

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