New bill to protect domestic abuse victims from gun violence

New Bill To Protect Domestic Abuse Victims From Gun Violence

Domestic violence is a scourge that affects the lives of too many people. When violence is part of a couple's or family's home life, women, children and men are put at risk. Any steps that can be taken to protect people from the threat of domestic violence, should be taken. Yet, here in Rhode Island, many domestic abusers are able to retain their right to possess firearms.

Keeping Guns Out Of The Hands Of Domestic Abusers

Recently, House Speaker, Nicholas Mattiello, issued a statement in support of a bill that would keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault that included "the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a firearm, against a family or household member" as well as those subject to domestic abuse restraining orders.

Why Do We Need This Bill?

Currently in Rhode Island, only those convicted of felony domestic violence lose the ability to possess a gun. Most domestic violence charges are misdemeanor. Also, as the law stands now, someone must be convicted of three or more misdemeanor domestic assaults before the law treats it as a felony. Domestic violence cases can be difficult to prosecute due to witness reluctance and other issues.

This allows abusers an extended window in which to retain their firearms and heightens the risk to the victims of domestic violence. One key talking point being used to push this bill is that the presence of a gun will make it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered.

At the same time, advocates from the National Rifle Association (NRA) are working to cast doubts around the need for this bill, claiming that it targets law-abiding citizens. Like all bills that place any restriction on Second Amendment rights, this bill will face real challenges as it works through the House of Representatives.


Nicholas J. Hemond Attorney at Law
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Providence, RI 02903

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