By a Biometrica staffer
The US Department of Justice has charged over 500 domestic violence cases involving firearms during fiscal year 2020, it said in a statement.
These charges are the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, led by Acting Director Regina Lombardo, who has made domestic violence firearms-related investigations a priority, the DoJ said.
In 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr created the DoJ’s first Domestic Violence Working Group, aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of convicted abusers, using the tools of federal firearm prosecutions to prevent domestic violence.
“Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminal offenders is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities. This is especially important when it comes to individuals with prior domestic violence convictions. The statistics are clear that when domestic violence offenders have access to guns, their partners and their families are at much greater risk of falling victim to gun violence. In fact, in some communities across America, roughly half of the homicides are related to domestic violence,” said Attorney General Barr.
Under federal law, individuals with domestic violence misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders, are prohibited from possessing firearms. The data shows that offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a high risk of homicide. In fact, domestic violence abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners.
The Working Group, chaired by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas, disseminates legal guidance on keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers using three federal statutes:
– 18 USC § 922 (g)(1), felon in possession of a firearm
– 18 USC § 922 (g)(9), possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (misdemeanor crime of domestic violence)
– 18 USC § 922 (g)(8), possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order
Based on the Working Group’s guidance, in FY 2020, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide brought 337 domestic violence felon-in-possession charges, 54 possession while subject to a protective order charges, and 142 possession by a prohibited person charges.
For more information on domestic violence or to get help, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).