Removing firearms from those prohibited from possession by domestic violence restraining orders: A survey and analysis of state laws.

Author(s): 
Zeoli, A.M., Frattaroli, S., Roskam, K., & Herrera, A. (2019).
Source: 
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 20(1), 114 – 125.
Type of Profession:
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Summary: 

Research shows the dangers firearms pose when violent intimate partners have access to them. Under federal and many state laws, persons under domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) are prohibited from possession of firearms. The authors of this article analyzed state laws pertaining to the relinquishment or removal of firearms from persons prohibited from possession by DVROs.

Abstract: 

Research shows the dangers firearms pose when violent intimate partners have access to them. Victims report that violent intimate partners use firearms in the course of the violence, often to intimidate or make threats (Capaldi et al., 2009; Joshi & Sorenson, 2010; Lynch &Logan, 2015). The literature suggests that violent intimate partners who have access to firearms engage in more severe domestic violence than those who do not. This may only in part be due to firearm use; it is possible that those who are willing to commit more severe violence are also more likely to own firearms (Sorenson & Weibe, 2004; Zeoli, Malinski, & Turchan, 2016).

Under federal and many state laws, persons under domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) are prohibited from possession of firearms. Using multiple sources and a Lexis Nexis (legal) search, these authors developed a list of state laws pertaining to the relinquishment or removal of firearms from persons prohibited from possession by DVROs. After downloading the text of each law, they conducted a legal analysis to enumerate provisions of the laws specifying implementation. They found 49 laws in 29 states and Washington, DC. The laws were conceptualized as instructions to the court, the respondent, and law enforcement.

The article details the content of each state’s law, including such elements as whether it applies to ex parte DVROs; whether certain criteria must be met, such as previous use of a firearm in domestic violence or lack of an employment exemption, before the law can be applied; and whether the application of the law is mandatory. The authors also detailed instructions to respondent regarding to whom firearms may be relinquished, whether the respondent must seek permission to transfer the firearm to a third party, and the time by which dispossession must occur. Finally, whether law enforcement bears the responsibility for removing the firearm or whether the law gives the court the authority to order a search and seizure for the firearms was discussed.

The purpose of the research was to provide an overview of these state laws that can be used by key stakeholders in legislative, judicial, advocacy, or research roles. Implications are discussed by the article authors.

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