Firearms and Domestic Violence: A Deadly Combination

From the National Center on Protection Orders Full Faith and Credit Newsletter, March 23, 2017

Firearms and Domestic Violence: A Deadly Combination

Currently, there is a significant amount of discussion in the United States surrounding gun violence. Firearms and domestic violence are a lethal mix. Looking at homicides that occurred in 2011, a recent study showed that nearly two-thirds of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners. (Citation: Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data 6, (September 2013) at http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2013.pdf . It is clear from this data that removing guns from domestic abusers saves lives.

It is important for all disciplines to understand the federal firearm laws and their relationship to any state laws. The complexity of firearm legislation and case law make it difficult and confusing to determine what laws apply and to whom. Federal law prohibits abusers who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence and persons subject to certain protection orders from purchasing or possessing guns and ammunition. Some states have enacted legislation that mirrors the federal firearm prohibitions. Other jurisdictions have adopted broader laws to address issues that the federal law does not address such as including dating relationships and stalking crimes. To assist practitioners, NCPOFFC has compiled a matrix of domestic violence-related firearm prohibitions.

All disciplines that deal with intimate partner violence have a unique responsibility to address the presence and use of weapons to ensure survivor safety. NCPOFFC has created firearms checklists so practitioners can be better prepared to deal with weapons possession. Please click the following link to access the appropriate firearms checklist:

Law enforcement checklist:
This checklist for law enforcement provides information on two classes of persons prohibited under the domestic violence related provisions of the federal Gun Control Act. Those subject to a protection order (18 USC 922 (g)(8)) and those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (MCDV) (18 USC 922 (g)(9)) are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. This document also provides tips on seizure and safe return of firearms as well as responding to information requests and incidents of officer-involved domestic violence. It is important for all disciplines to understand the federal firearm laws and their relationship to any state laws

Judges’ checklist:
This checklist for judges provides key information on the federal Gun Control Act provisions prohibiting purchase or possession of firearms by those subject to a protection order (18 USC 922 (g)(8)) or those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (MCDV) (18 USC 922 (g)(9)). Detailed information on who is prohibited, as well as surrender, transfer, and return of firearms, and requirements of judicial notification are provided.

Advocates’ checklist:
This checklist provides information for advocates facilitating a discussion with survivors about firearms. It also provides key information on the federal Gun Control Act provisions prohibiting the purchase or possession of firearms by those subject to a protection order (18 USC 922 (g)(8)) or those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (MCDV) (18 USC 922 (g)(9)).

Prosecutors’ checklist:
This checklist for prosecutors provides key information on the federal Gun Control Act prohibiting those subject to a protection order (18 USC 922 (g)(8)) or those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (MCDV) (18 USC 922 (g)(9)) from possessing a firearm or ammunition. This tool provides tips from charging decisions to documenting the conviction, as well as facilitating a community response to aid in convicting dangerous abusers.

NCPOFFC staff is available to assist practitioners in understanding both federal and state domestic violence related firearm prohibitions. Please contact NCPOFFC at 800-903-0111 prompt 2, or visit the website to access matrices of state firearm laws, case law, promising practices, and to request technical assistance or training on this issue.

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Filed under domestic abuse, domestic violence, domestic violence law, gun control, homicide, intimate partner violence, victims of crime, violence against women

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