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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.


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