Press Release

Giffords Applauds Texas Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee for Considering Legislation that Seeks to Reduce the Deadly Link Between Guns and Domestic Violence

HB 3191 establishes procedures to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers

Giffords urges swift passage of the lifesaving legislation

April 11, 2019 Giffords, the gun violence organization led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, applauded the Texas Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee for holding a hearing on HB 3191, a bill that seeks to protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence. The bill would require a person who is the subject of a family violence protective order or arrested or charged with domestic violence to surrender their firearms to law enforcement.

“Guns should never be in the hands of dangerous domestic abusers,” said Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords. “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will die. This is a terrifying reality for millions and we applaud Texas leaders for beginning the push to make it harder for these dangerous scenarios to happen. This committee hearing is an excellent first step to keeping survivors of domestic violence safe. Giffords applauds Rep. Joe Moody for introducing this lifesaving bill and we urge the committee and the legislature to act quickly.”

HB 3191 would require each county commissioners court to establish a task force to make recommendations about best practices and standards for ensuring the relinquishment of firearms by domestic abusers. It would also expressly authorize magistrates to order relinquishment of firearms by people subject to domestic violence protective orders, or to people released on bond or conditional release for domestic violence offenses, and specifies that such relinquishment orders must require notice and proof of compliance.

The latest edition of the Giffords Law Center Annual Gun Law Scorecard found that Texas received an “F” for the strength of the state’s gun laws. Texas did not enact any firearm-related legislation in 2018. The state has very weak gun safety laws and is a major exporter of crime guns. To raise its grade above an F and save lives from gun violence, Texas should pass universal background checks, prohibit hate crime offenders from accessing guns, and repeal its dangerous campus carry law.

Background Information on Guns and Domestic Violence

From 2001 to 2012, more than 6,410 women were murdered in the US by an intimate partner using a gun. Protecting the lives of American women and their families requires lawmakers to take steps to ensure that dangerous domestic abusers and convicted stalkers don’t have easy access to guns. Gaps in federal law that allow abusers and stalkers to purchase and possess guns are a key driver of the staggering levels of lethal violence against women in the United States. Polls show that 82% of Americans — including 68% of Republicans — support legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers including policies like:

  • Closing the “Boyfriend Gap”: In 2008, 49% of all intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner. Current federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses from accessing firearms, including individuals who are a current or former spouse, parent, parent of a child in common, current or former cohabitant, or a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim. But federal law does not prohibit perpetrators who abused current or former dating partners from accessing guns. This deadly gap leaves a significant number of abusers free to own firearms and makes it all too easy for those guns to be used against their partners.
  • Closing the “Stalking Gap”: Stalking is a strong predictor of future violence. One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that 76% of women murdered and 85% who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. Under current federal law, individuals convicted of felony stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing guns. But individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not prohibited from accessing guns. Closing the “stalker gap” in federal law would help ensure that all individuals convicted of stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing firearms.

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