Conservatives reject police gun check for domestic violence abusers

Conservatives in the state House dismissed a bill seeking to protect victims of domestic violence by requiring police to check accused offenders for guns.

In instances where a judge issues an order of protection for the victim, House Bill 0568 would have required local law enforcement to conduct an in-person check to ensure the person accused of stalking or domestic violence had given up their firearms.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91, failed in the House Children & Families Subcommittee when every Republican ignored a motion to hear the legislation.

Meanwhile studies show that gun access is a major risk factor for homicide in abusive relationships—mostly for women.

While everyone is at a greater risk of dying by homicide if they have access to a gun, the connection is stronger for women. In a survey of battered women, 71.4 percent of respondents reported that guns had been used against them, usually to threaten to kill them. A study comparing abused women who survived with those killed by their abuser found that 51 percent of women who were killed had a gun in the house. By contrast, only 16 percent of women who survived lived in homes with guns.

Vox, November 2018

Bill would also end third-party ‘honor system’
This bill would also tighten the rules when accused abusers utilize “third party” transfers to hand off their guns to a friend or family member.

According to a Fox 17 report, the state currently has no way to verify the handoff to a family member or friend actually happens, and sometimes those third parties are not permitted to have a gun either.

“We have been really relying on the honor system with these violent offenders that they are handing over their weapons to a third party,” said Becky Bullard who works for the Department of Family Safety which works to improve victim safety and offender accountability. “Essentially what it says is we trust a domestic violence offender, someone who’s been convicted or has an order of protection against them to hand over their weapon to a third party.”

Fox 17, June 22, 2018

There is still hope for closing the third-party gun possession loophole this year. House Bill 1224, sponsored by Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59, would require confirmation that third party’s were allowed to possess guns.

House Bill 1224, supported by The Safe Tennessee Project, will be heard in the House Constitutional Protections & Sentencing Subcommittee on March 13.

How they voted on HB0568:
Bill failed for lack of second in House Children & Families Subcommittee. Defeated by:
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39