Federal effort seeks to fight domestic violence

The U.S. Department of Justice is leading a new effort to fight domestic violence. U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr announced details earlier this week.
 

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr recently announced the formation of a Domestic Violence Working Group aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers, using the tools of federal prosecution to stop and prevent domestic violence.

The group will operate under the auspices of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) and be comprised of nine U.S. attorneys across the country, chaired by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

“Too often, domestic abusers start with threats and abuse, and end up committing extreme violence and even homicide, with devastating impact on families and the community around them,” Barr said in a news release that provided details. “I have directed this working group to examine this issue and determine the best way to use federal gun prosecutions and other appropriate tools to supplement state, local and tribal efforts to address domestic violence.”

Cox said: “With so many domestic disputes escalating from bruises to bullets, we felt we needed to supplement our state and local partners’ efforts to curb domestic violence with federal prosecutions. We hope our initial cases send a message to convicted abusers: Not only could the Justice Department theoretically prosecute abusers for firearm possession – they have and they will.”

Federal law has long barred convicted felons, as well as individuals subject to certain domestic violence protective orders or convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, from possessing firearms.

The Justice Department news release said:

Offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a remarkably high risk of homicide. Research shows that abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners than abusers who don’t have that same access to a firearm. And according to one recent study, more than half of America’s mass shootings are cases of extreme domestic violence.

Keeping guns from domestic abusers legally prohibited from possessing them would significantly reduce violence in America, a major priority of the Justice Department.

Federal gun cases involving domestic violence present unique challenges. In some states, the federal and state definitions of domestic violence differ, requiring complex legal analysis that varies based on the location of conviction.

The working group will share best practices, legal analysis and guidance on prosecuting abusers who unlawfully possess guns, and will advise U.S. attorneys across the country on outreach to local law enforcement, judges, and nonprofit groups.

At a glance

Working Group members include:

Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky

Nicola T. Hanna, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

Justin E. Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio

Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas

Christina E. Nolan, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont

Byung J. Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia

R. Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma

Timothy J. Downing, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma

Source: U.S. Justice Department

Source: Federal effort seeks to fight domestic violence


VICTOR JOECKS: Controversial gun control measure could pass without a hearing

The Legislature could pass a controversial gun control measure without ever holding a public hearing.

At issue is a red flag law, which allows courts to order the confiscation of weapons from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Narrowly tailored, these laws can be beneficial. For instance, the Parkland, Florida, school shooter had a history of disturbing and dangerous behavior. Police went to his house 39 times in seven years. It could have prevented a mass murder had a court taken away his weapons.

In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, some prominent conservatives, such as David French with National Review, came out in support of red flag laws. But getting the details wrong can turn a good idea into a bad law. It’s a tough balancing act to design a statute that allows government to seize someone’s weapons while respecting an individual’s right to due process.

Finding that balance requires discussion and compromise. That could have happened. Early in the session, state Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, proposed a very broad red flag bill, Senate Bill 120. For instance, included in the definition of high-risk behavior was the act of acquiring a firearm within six months of displaying a firearm.

A judge who determined someone engaged in those behaviors and posed a risk could order that individual to turn over his or her firearms to law enforcement. The bill also required only “clear and convincing” evidence, a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the proposal, a judge could have ordered an individual’s firearms be confiscated without the subject knowing he’d been accused of threatening behavior.

If the court issued such an order — potentially without the person’s knowledge — the information would have been sent to the Nevada Records of Criminal History. Subjects would thus be prevented from passing a background check if they tried to legally buy a firearm. That makes sense. No point in taking someone’s firearms away if they’re allowed to just buy another one. What doesn’t make sense is that if the information doesn’t get removed automatically from the database if the court removes the protection order. The individual must petition a court to remove it.

This means the government could take your guns without you even knowing you’d been accused. And if you cleared your name, you’d have to return to court to restore your ability to purchase firearms. So much for innocent until proven guilty and due process.

Public and behind-the-scenes input would have improved this bill. But SB120 died in mid-April without a hearing.

That should have been the end of it. But Democrats are now considering amending a red flag law into Assembly Bill 291, which bans bump stocks.

If that happens, there won’t be a public hearing and gun owners may not even find out what’s in the bill until after it has passed.

That would be a mistake. A conversation about a red flag law is worth having, but getting the details right won’t happen if Democrats rush it through.

VICTOR JOECKS: Controversial gun control measure could pass without a hearing

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 10 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

Source: VICTOR JOECKS: Controversial gun control measure could pass without a hearing


The Real Reason for AB291 and removing State Gun Law Preemption Laws?

Clark County commissioners open to gun restrictions on Strip

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Some Clark County commissioners have voiced general support for considering firearm restrictions on the Las Vegas Strip if Nevada lawmakers give them the power to create stricter gun laws.

The county would be given such power under the omnibus AB291 gun bill moving through the Democrat-controlled Legislature despite widespread opposition from Republicans and gun rights groups.

Some commissioners say state law prevented the body from enacting gun regulations following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman attacked a 2017 Las Vegas music festival and used bump stocks to mimic the firing rate of an automatic firearm.

AB291 - Revises provisions relating to public safety. (BDR 15-759)
Captured from nellis - 4-29-2019 6:35 pm
Reprint Total Opinions Opinions in Favor Opinions Against View Comments
Original Bill Version 1913 208 1705
April 22, 2019 41 1 40
Bill Totals 1954 209 1745 View Comments

Share Your Opinion with Your Legislators
80th (2019) Session - While you still can!

"As a large metropolitan area, we simply face different law enforcement challenges than other places in the state," said Commissioner Justin Jones at a bill hearing, mentioning the millions of tourists who visit Las Vegas each year. He also said declaring the Las Vegas Strip a gun-free zone on major holidays would be a common-sense gun measure.

Jones said in an interview that he expects there to be interest on firearm restrictions for the Las Vegas Strip, if the Nevada bill passes.

Commissioner Tick Segerblom says he would go further.

Segerblom said he's not only in support of those restrictions, but wants a discussion over adding an assault weapons ban, handgun registrations and ammunition limitations.

Giving counties the ability to dictate gun laws allows the conversation over firearm issues to extend past the state's biennial legislative session, he said.

Nevada is one of the few states in which the Legislature meets every other year.

Jones and Segerblom are former state lawmakers who have backed gun bills in the past.

Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick expressed support for considering gun regulations for the Strip corridor, but cautioned that the commission would have to consider the impact on large hunting shows.

The amended Nevada bill handily passed the Assembly with no Republican support. The Nevada bill would also ban bump stocks and lower the alcohol limit for legally possessing a firearm outside a person's home.

Unlike the original bill, the amended legislation would not allow cities and towns to enact stricter firearm laws. Yet the changes to the bill have not blunted criticism.

Don Turner, president of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, said the group remains in strong opposition to the amended bill and is most concerned with provisions giving counties the ability to create stricter firearm laws, arguing that it's easier to pass a local ordinance than a state law.

Assemblyman Tom Roberts, a Republican who voted against the amended bill, said he is in support of the bump stock ban, but disagreed with giving counties the power to create more stringent firearm laws. He argued it would create a patchwork of laws.

"It's not something I believe that we should be giving up to the county commissions, when we have such a large and diverse state with huge differences of opinion on this issue," he said.

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Source: Clark County commissioners open to gun restrictions on Strip