Archive for Saturday, February 6, 2016

Missouri Democrat proposes gun ban for domestic abusers

February 6, 2016


— Although there’s consensus in some other Republican-dominated states to ramp up laws to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, a Missouri proposal to do that appears to have little chance in the GOP Legislature.

Democratic St. Louis Rep. Stacey Newman said her bill to ban those convicted of domestic violence from having firearms would give police tools to prevent gun deaths.

But she said HB 1595 probably won’t make it across the finish line, and the GOP leader of the House said it’s “very unlikely” such a measure will pass.

A similar bill by Newman last year was referred to a House panel on the last day of session — too late to hold a hearing. GOP House Speaker Todd Richardson said he hasn’t reviewed Newman’s bill, but expects such a proposal will get a hearing at some point this session. He said its chances beyond that are slim.

“We’ve got a caucus in the Legislature that’s going to fiercely defend the Second Amendment,” Richardson said.

More than 200 people were killed with guns by spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners in Missouri between 2006 and 2014, according to an Associated Press analysis of FBI data. Eighteen died in 2014.

Nationally, an average of 760 Americans were killed each year in that period. That number also includes data from Florida, which were not included in the FBI report but were analyzed separately by AP. The national total is an undercount because not all law enforcement agencies report such information, and it doesn’t include children and other bystanders who were killed. More than 80 percent of those killed were women.

Newman’s bill would also ban gun possession for those convicted of sexual offenses and those with protective or restraining orders against them. Another provision would create a process for courts to issue gun restraining orders, which ban possession and use of firearms, for up to one year if there’s a demonstrated risk of gun violence. Those with restraining orders against them could request a hearing.

Police could remove firearms with a gun seizure warrant if there’s probable cause to believe a gun restraining order has been violated. That would be followed by a hearing.

More than a dozen states have strengthened laws over the past two years to strip gun rights from those convicted of domestic violence crimes and those with protective orders against them.

Federal law has long prohibited felons, those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse and individuals subject to permanent protective orders from buying or owning guns. Critics say the federal law is too weak because it does not apply to dating relationships, does not ban guns during temporary protective orders and does not establish procedures for abusers to surrender firearms.

States, including Wisconsin and South Carolina, have been passing their own laws to match or exceed the federal prohibitions. Both are controlled by Republican legislatures and have GOP governors.


Jim Phillips 2 years, 3 months ago

It might be helpful to her cause if she was familiar with federal law, specifically the one that prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms.

Bob Forer 2 years, 3 months ago

Problem is that only the feds can prosecute a violation of federal law, and they have bigger fish to fry. As a former County Attorney, I found it was very difficult to get the feds interested in smaller cases that would have, imho, been better off handled by them. This would give the local prosecutors the ability to protect their own constituents when the feds are unwilling or unable to step in.

Jim Phillips 2 years, 3 months ago

Bob, You have an excellent point to a point. Having been in law enforcement for 34 years, I am aware of judicial jurisdiction and of the "latitude" that federal, state, and municipal prosecutors have in prosecutions. I am also well aware of increasing case loads and the need for case negotiatons. However, this is a law the feds demanded due to its political importance and they got it. And now they are "too busy" to prosecute the violators? Is it no longer politically important for them? If I had exercised as much discretion in my job about who gets arrested as prosecutors have in theirs about who gets prosecuted, I would have been accused of malfeasance. As a former County Attorney, I know you are aware that the federal penal system is different from the state system in that under the federal system, there is no parole. You also know that means if a federal judge sentences a defendant to one year and three days, the defendant will serve one year and three days. This is unlike the state system where there are mandatory sentencing guidelines and state parole board hearings that will allow that same defendant appearing in state court to serve a fraction of his sentence. This is an example of a multitude of other gun laws that are on the books that do not get prosecuted. The laws are there, yet are ignored. The anti-gun people scream and holler for "reasonable" gun laws yet prosecutors are "too busy" to enforce current gun laws. I understand your prosecutorial frustration over the futility of trying to get certain cases sent through to federal court. And the feds are dropping the ball once again.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.