Bill could keep guns away from domestic abusers

The American Press

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p class="p1">This editorial was written by a member of the <em>American Press</em> Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are <strong>Crystal Stevenson</strong>,<strong> John Guidroz</strong>, retired editor <strong>Jim Beam</strong> and retired staff writer <strong>Mike Jones</strong>. </p>” id=”421d9fa2-7646-4035-b9c7-405d1d88ab10″ style-type=”info” title=”EDITORIAL BOARD” type=”relcontent”}}

A bill making its way through the state Legislature aims to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. 

There’s already a law on Louisiana’s books — passed more than three years ago — to do this, but advocates say it isn’t being enforced statewide. The problem, they insist, is that despite prohibiting gun ownership for these offenders, the Legislature never set up a system to ensure the firearm is surrendered or taken away.

State Sen. J.P. Morell wants to fix that. 

“We often hear that we need to tighten the laws that are already on the books,” Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, told The Advocate newspaper. “The bill is just kind of laying out how you do it.”

Morrell’s bill, approved by the Senate in early April, sets up the framework on how to “transfer” firearms from prohibited possessors, including those targeted by a restraining order. The transfer would allow law enforcement to temporarily hold weapons until the protective orders are lifted or to supervise the transfer of the weapons to a third party. 

The bill also includes a plan on how to identify and penalize those banned from purchasing guns who try anyway.

In January, the Domestic Violence Prevention Commission wanted the bill’s wording to say “relinquish” the weapon, but as the legislation passed through committees and the Senate floor the term was changed to “transfer.”

On the Senate floor, Morrell told the story of Amber Carter, a domestic violence shooting victim. Carter’s father-in-law, who had been placed under a protective order, took a gun and killed four of her family members in 2009.

According to Morrell, Carter said that without a way to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, the restraining orders “aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.”

The bill is pending final passage in the House now. 

Hopefully the attention focused on gun control that resulted from the recent tragic events in Florida will help win passage of this needed fix. 

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones

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