Statistics show that abused women face a fivefold risk of fatality if their abuser owns a gun. Moreover, domestic violence assaults with a weapon are 12 times more likely to end in fatality than in any other type of physical abuse. In 2011, nearly two-thirds of female gun violence victims were fatally injured by a partner. Fortunately, both federal and Maryland state law recognizes that abusers should not have access to guns.
Federal Law on Guns and Domestic Violence
The Omnibus Consolidation Appropriations Act of 1997 includes the Lautenberg Amendment, named for its sponsor, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. This amendment bars the use of guns or ammunition by anyone convicted of domestic violence, or anyone currently under a restraining order for this crime. However, federal law holds certain restrictions not found in Maryland law. For example, under federal law, only the abuse of an intimate partner of the defendant triggers the gun ban. That relationship is described as sexual and cohabiting, or the presence of a child in common with the partners. A dating or more casual relationship does not fall under federal protection, and those relationships make up half of all domestic violence fatalities.
Maryland Law on Guns and Domestic Violence
Maryland is one of 22 states that broaden domestic violence gun restrictions to include dating partners. Researchers find that states with such restrictions experienced a 10 percent decline in dating partner homicides, and a 14 percent reduction in domestic partner homicides. When a state requires those with domestic violence restraining orders to turn in firearms, as is the case in Maryland, intimate partner homicides dropped by an average of 22 percent.
Under Maryland law, a law enforcement officer can remove firearms from the scene if the officer believes domestic violence has occurred, and saw the firearm. After removing the firearms, the officer must inform the firearm owner about how they may retrieve the weapon. Information is also provided about requirements for safe storage of the firearm while the domestic violence charges go through the courts. At the conclusion of domestic violence-related legal proceedings, the owner may obtain the weapon, unless the court orders surrender of the firearm.
Under Maryland law, once a final domestic violence protective order is issued, the person subject to the order must surrender all firearms in their possession to law enforcement. This person cannot possess firearms for the period in which the protective order is in place. Maryland law does not permit the transfer, renting, or selling of a firearm to a person under such a protective order.
Towson Domestic Violence Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Advocate for All Victims of Domestic Abuse
If you are going through a divorce and/or have been threatened with domestic violence, you need the services of the experienced Towson domestic violence lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC. Call 443-589-0150 today, or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation. With offices located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we proudly serve clients throughout the state.