Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban Fact Sheet
Women face immense danger from guns in the hands of their intimate partners.
From 1990-1999, 63% of the female homicides by intimate partners involved
guns.1 Having one or more guns in the home make
a woman 7.2 times more likely to be murdered by her intimate partner.2
According to a study of crime data from 1976-1987, more women were shot
and killed by a husband or intimate acquaintance than were murdered by
strangers using firearms, knives, or any other means.3
The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban
The 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, introduced by Senator Frank
Lautenberg (D-NJ) and passed as an amendment to the 1996 Treasury-Postal
Appropriations Bill, prohibits the owning or using of fire arms if an
individual (1) has ever been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence
offense or (2) is currently subject to a restraining order regarding an
intimate partner or the child of such a partner. The restraining order
must meet certain qualifications. 4
The ban applies to everyone. There is NO exception for law enforcement
or military personnel. The law applies to ANY misdemeanor domestic violence
conviction, even if it occurred prior to the passage of the 1996 Domestic
Violence Offender Gun Ban. 5
Furthermore, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban makes it unlawful
to sell or give a firearm or ammunition to a person who is known to have
been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or to be under a domestic
violence protective order that meets certain qualifications. 6
Police Family Violence
Research has documented that at least 40% of police
officer families experience domestic violence each year.7
Victims of domestic violence committed by police officers frequently
fear that the perpetrator will not be held accountable for the violence.
Unfortunately, this fear is well-founded. A study of all completed Internal
Affairs investigations from 1991 to 1997 of officers of the Los Angeles
Police Department accused of domestic violence concluded that the discipline
imposed was "exceedingly light," the "investigations lacked
objectivity or were otherwise flawed or skewed," and "the Department
should have presented many more internal investigations to Los Angeles
prosecuting agencies." 8
The Effects of the Domestic Violence Gun Ban on Police
Unfortunately, an early analysis of the effect of the Domestic Violence
Gun Ban on police officers shows that law enforcement officers have been
able to circumvent the ban and retain their weapons. A 1999 survey of
the nation's 100 largest police departments revealed that only six cities
acted against officers because of the Domestic Violence Gun Ban and only
eleven officers were affected. Part of the reason for the lack of enforcement
is that police officers have their records expunged or plead to a charge
other than domestic violence. 9
Because of the dangers women face if their spouse or partner is abusive
and has a gun, it is incumbent on police departments to insure that they
comply with the provisions of the Lautenberg Amendment. The Minneapolis
Police Department, for example, requires that its employees inform the
department if an Order of Protection, Restraining Order, or Harassment
Order has been filed against the employee.10 Inquiry
into prior domestic violence convictions, both misdemeanor and felony,
and current orders of protection should be part of the initial application
process as well.
1 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Homicide
Trends in the U.S., Intimate Homicide Victims by Weapon and Gender. Available
at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/intweaptab.htm. Calculation by
the National Center for Women & Policing.
2 James E. Bailey, MD, MPH, et. al., "Risk Factors for Violence
Death of Women in the Home," Archives of Internal Medicine 157, no.
7 (1997): 777-782.
3 Arthur L. Kellerman, MD, MPH, et. al., "Men, Women, and Murder:
Gender-Specific Differences in Rates of Fatal Violence and Victimization,"
The Journal of Trauma 33, no. 1 (1992): 1-5.
4 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), (9).
5 The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is constitutional. See, e.g.,
United States v. Emerson, (No. 99-10331) (5th Cir. 2001), Gillespie v.
City of Indianapolis, Indiana, 185 F.3d 693 (7th 1999), FOP v. United
States, 173 F.3d 898 (D.C. Cir. 1999).
6 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(8), (9)
7 Neidig, P.H., Russell, H.E. & Seng, A.F. (1992). Interspousal aggression
in law enforcement families: A preliminary investigation. Police Studies,
Vol. 15 (1), p. 30-38.
8 "How Well Does the Los Angeles Police Department Police its Own?"
The Report of the Domestic Violence Task Force, Office of the Inspector
General (1997) p. 1. Available at http://www.ci.la.ca.us/oig/documents/Domestic/Dvtfdoc1.pdf
9 Ed Meyer et al., "Few Lose Jobs," Akron Beacon Journal (December
5, 1999): A1
10 Margaret H. Culp, "Officer-Involved Orders for Protection: A
Management Challenge," The Police Chief (March 2000): 10.