Domestic Violence Advocates Urge Committee to Reject Limits on Offender Gun Ban Law
Before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Domestic Violence Action advocates urged rejection of bills that would gut the domestic violence offender gun ban law. Proposed legislation in Congress would amend the law, which currently prohibits those indicted for domestic violence to own or carry guns, to exclude police officers and military personnel and others convicted of domestic violence before the law's passage in September 1996. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, commented on the proposed legislation, "Batterers fall into a category of criminals who are likely to reoffend. Guns are often the weapon of choice for those who commit acts of domestic violence. And studies show higher rates of domestic violence within police families than in the general population. Knowing this, how can we accept any change in the law that would put guns back into the hands of abusers?"
Those who propose the amended legislation argue that the ban will unfairly cost officers their jobs, even though, in reality, the officers will simply be reassigned to jobs (i.e. desk jobs) which do not require guns. In response to the allegation, Penny Harrington, the director of the Feminist Majority Foundation's National Center for Women and Policing, commented, "Rather than trying to seek an exemption for police officers and military personnel who are abusers, we should be concerned with why we are recruiting so many abusers for these positions. One half of all 911 calls are related to domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence should expect a sympathetic officer responding to 911 calls, not one who has committed domestic violence himself."
Media Resources: Press Release - March 6, 1997