Bill would restrict gun possession by accused domestic abusers

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A bill that would ban accused domestic abusers from having guns passed a House committee Tuesday, the Star Tribune reports.

The measure, authored by Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, would require anyone who is subject to a restraining order to turn over their guns to law enforcement or another party such as a firearms dealer, who would store them until the case is resolved. The firearms couldn't be seized until after a hearing on the restraining order takes place, he said.

The House Public Safety Committee approved the measure on a voice vote.

Schoen, who is a police officer, said of Minnesota’s 38 domestic violence-related deaths last year, 10 were caused by firearms.

“We’re not going after law-abiding gun owners,” Schoen said. “If you beat women and children, you don’t deserve to have your gun.”

St. Paul city attorney Sara Grewing spoke in favor of the bill, saying domestic abuse victims are six times more likely to be killed if there is a weapon in the home, according to the Associated Press.

"Firearms are instruments of torture in situations of domestic abuse," she said.

"The threat to use a weapon and threat to kill the victim are among the most reliable indicators of lethality, but they are often the most overlooked," testified Bree Adams Bill,of the nonprofit St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.

But some gun ownership advocates argued against the bill, saying it could infringe on their right to own a gun.

Julie Zappa of Grey Cloud Island told the committee she was in an abusive relationship, and is also a gun owner. She said a piece of paper won't keep battered women safe, the Associated Press reports.

"Abusers will find a way to get a gun whether it's legal or not," said Zappa. "I understand the fear, personally, the anger. I overcame this."

Andrew Rothman, president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, called the bill well-intentioned but misapplied, according to the Star Tribune.

“I appreciate the work that is being done here, but many would agree that going after the root causes of abuse would be a better use of this committee’s time than this fixation on certain hardware,” he said.

The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee. A companion bill in the Senate was approved by that body's Judiciary committee Monday.

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