Tuesday, May 14, 2013
By Peter H. Milliken
A state legislator and a social service agency executive are promoting an Ohio House Bill that would require someone subject to a temporary civil or criminal domestic violence protection order to immediately surrender all of his or her firearms.
House Bill 160, whose primary sponsor is state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, would require anyone subject to such an order to surrender the guns to a law- enforcement agency or sell them to a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Appearing with Hagan at a Mahoning County Courthouse news conference Monday was Sister Patricia McNicholas, senior development director of Beatitude House, a nonprofit agency serving disad- vantaged women and children in the Mahoning Valley.
An announcement of the news conference said the bill, which Hagan introduced Wednesday, is intended to prevent intimate-partner homicides by separating an alleged aggressor from his or her firearms.
“Intimate-partner homicides account for nearly half the women killed every year, and more than half of these women are killed with a firearm,” Hagan said, citing federal statistics.
“As many as one in five women slain by intimate partners may have obtained protection orders against their eventual killers,” Hagan said, citing research published in the Criminal Justice Review.
“Federal statute requires most of those served with full protection orders to give up their weapons, but the law is rarely enforced. It’s time for Ohio to step up and protect victims from domestic violence,” Hagan said.
“This law will implement a cooling-off period for those served a protection order. The most dangerous moment for domestic-violence victims is when protection orders are first issued,” he added.
In its 22 years in operation, Beatitude House has served several thousand homeless women with children, the majority having experienced domestic violence. “We’d be very much in support of any efforts to curb the potential of those women to be a victim of domestic violence in the future,” Sister Patricia said.
“It does sound like a redundancy to me,” Mike Miller, spokesman for Miller Rod and Gun of Struthers, said of Hagan’s bill, given the existing federal law. “They should focus their energies on creating a law that would be more functional” and enforceable in curbing violence and illegal gun possession, Miller said of lawmakers.
Under the proposed Ohio legislation, the complaining person seeking the protection order must list to the best of his or her knowledge the number, types and locations of any guns the defendant possesses.
If a law-enforcement officer serves the order on the defendant and demands immediate surrender of the guns, the defendant must immediately hand them over to the officer in a safe manner.
If no officer demands immediate surrender, the defendant still must turn the guns over to law enforcement or sell them to a federally licensed gun dealer within 24 hours.
Law-enforcement agencies may charge defendants storage fees for firearms in their custody.
These requirements would apply regardless of whether the magistrate or judge issued the order after an ex parte hearing (one with only the complainant present) or at a hearing with both the complainant and the defendant present.