The Diocese of Des Moines
Prohibiting domestic abuse perpetrators from possessing guns is essential in protecting victims of domestic violence
March 2, 2010
Written By: Diane McKee

The Iowa House of Representatives has a great opportunity to step-up and help protect victims of domestic violence. Since 1995, two hundred and five Iowans have been killed in domestic abuse murders. Over half of these murders – 111 – involved guns. To prevent so many murders in the future, the bill currently in subcommittee, SF 2357, prohibits domestic abuse perpetrators from possessing guns and clarifies the power of local officials to enforce the law. 

 
Under the law, people convicted of domestic abuse assault or subject to a final protective order are prohibited from possessing guns. These people get notice and a hearing with a judge. They can bring attorneys and tell their side of the story. If they disagree with the conviction, they can appeal. And the prohibition on guns only lasts as long as the final protective order. There are plenty of steps built into this process to protect the rights of gun owners. 

There currently is a federal gun ban law. So if the legislation is passed, this new state law will not be taking guns away from people who currently have the legal right to possess them, it would only create a mechanism for local law enforcement to remove firearms from abusers who under federal law legally should not have firearms in their possession in the first place.

We need the additional state law so that local law enforcement officers have the legal authority to enforce the firearm ban. There is currently no mechanism for enforcing the federal firearms prohibition for domestic abusers under state law. Therefore, if the abuser chooses to keep firearms in violation of federal law there is nothing local law enforcement officers can do about it. This legislation would give local law enforcement the authority and the process for taking firearms out of the hands of abusers who already illegally possess them under federal law. Without additional state law there are only two ATF agents in the entire state who can act to enforce the federal law, which is woefully inadequate. Two ATF agents cannot enforce the firearm ban provision alone. Without local law enforcement involved abusers will not and are not abiding by the federal firearms ban.

Under no circumstance, in federal law or under the new proposed state legislation would a person lose the right to possess a firearm unless they were given a hearing where both parties were given notice and were allowed to make their case in front of a judge. They also have the right to appeal a ruling if they believe it was found in error. Therefore, no firearm rights can be removed without full due process of law.
 
This bill is necessary to protect victims of domestic violence. We don’t want to have to tell another parent their child was killed because the legislature waited too long to pass this law. We want a safer community now.

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