Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Expanding the scope of gun prohibition to domestic abusers

The recent school shootings are likely to have an effect on gun laws in Virginia and elsewhere. New restrictions may affect not merely mass shootings but also other forms of firearm homicide.

There is current speculation that states may seek to bar gun ownership for those with a domestic violence record. Currently, many states only prohibit firearm ownership to those with felony conviction. Most domestic abuse convictions fall under the misdemeanor category and, as such, may not have an impact on purchasing a firearm. Most states do have legislation providing a special classification for domestic abuse.

There is further speculation that some jurisdictions might take the prohibition even further. Some may follow the California model, which orders turning over weapons upon a conviction or having them confiscated. In California, a victim can seek a special restraining order requiring the abuser to hand over firearms owned to law enforcement.

Other expansions of existing law include adding those who are romantically involved to a domestic violence conviction whether or not the pair is married and irrespective of whether the parties live together. In addition, some may seek to have domestic stalkers prohibited from firearm ownership whether or not any violence has occurred.

There are two chilling statistics indicating why such legislation is needed. First, more than half of the perpetrators of mass murders have some history of domestic violence. Second, statistics estimate that a probability of death following domestic violence is five times greater when a gun is owned by the perpetrator.

Despite public awareness over the past decade, domestic violence remains a serious problem. Fortunately for victims of violence or threats of violence, there are resources to help. Shelters, counseling and legal assistance are available. If a victim does not know where to turn, an experienced domestic law attorney may be a resource for navigating the legal options for recourse.

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