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Dallas County starting new program regarding domestic abusers and guns

There are many different things that can help protect family violence victims. One are restraining orders. When a Texan has been subjected to family violence, they may be able to receive a protective order from a court in the state against their abuser. Such orders can put many different restrictions on the abuser aimed at preventing further incidents of abuse. Attorneys can help victims of family abuse with questions they have about pursuing a restraining order and getting such an order enforced. 

Another thing that can help protect domestic violence victims is getting guns out of their abusers' possession. It is estimated that around 60 percent of the state's domestic violence homicides involve guns.

Here in Texas, there are a variety of different federal and state laws which are aimed at keeping those who have committed domestic violence away from guns. For example, laws are in place which make it so individuals convicted of domestic violence are not allowed to possess guns. Also, individuals who have a domestic-violence-related emergency protective order out against them are generally banned from firearm possession.

Thus, there are many different circumstances under which a domestic abuser could be ordered to not possess any firearms. However, Texas counties have generally lacked formal collection/storage mechanisms for firearm surrenders under such orders. Thus, the "honor system" has sometimes been the prevailing system when it comes to firearm possession ban orders against domestic violence perpetrators.

One Texas county, Dallas County, has taken steps to change this in its jurisdiction. A new program has been created under which the county's sheriff's department can collect and store guns surrendered by domestic violence perpetrators as part of a gun possession ban order. This program will also require domestic violence perpetrators who have had a firearm possession ban order issued against them to present proof that they have in fact relinquished (either through the new collection system or other legal methods) possession of any firearms they had.

Reportedly, Dallas County will be the sole Texas county to have such a program. What do you think of this program? Do you think it will help ensure that gun possession ban orders against domestic violence perpetrators are actually followed? Will it help better protect domestic violence victims? Should other Texas Counties, like Collin County, consider implementing such a program?

Source: WFAA, "Dallas County to take guns from domestic abusers," Tanya Eiserer, April 20, 2015

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