Smoke and Mirrors: How Current Firearm Relinquishment Laws Fail to Protect Domestic Violence Victims
Laura Lee Gildengorin
Volume 67, Issue 3, 807-48
In 2011, two-thirds of murdered women died at the hands of a current or former intimate partner who used a firearm. Thus, it is imperative to remove guns from the control of domestic violence offenders. With increased media coverage, domestic violence is at the forefront of the minds of many, but this growing awareness is not a new phenomenon. The federal government recognized the terrors of domestic offenders and firearms in two amendments to the Gun Control Act in 1994 and 1996, respectively.
In this Note, I examine the federal and state approaches of gun relinquishment laws pertaining to domestic violence offenders. The federal laws, although worthy of recognition, have done very little to actually compel offenders to give up their weapons. Instead, state and local laws are necessary to achieve this end since the triggering events (for example, a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or a domestic violence restraining order) are widely dealt with on a state level. Currently, however, the states provide us with a broad range of statutory approaches, from nonexistent to quite impressive.
My conclusion provides for a set of possible reforms to bolster the success of the federal and state laws. One must not forget that the goal of these provisions is to protect domestic violence victims from perpetrators who are often manipulative and vengeful. Thus, swift and deliberate action must be taken to seize offenders’ firearms. The potential consequences of not doing so—the deaths of innocent victims—are unacceptable.