Legislation Calls for Lifetime Ban on Possession of Firearms for Those Convicted of Domestic Violence
Would Bring Rhode Island into Compliance with Federal Law
To get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and to bring Rhode Island into compliance with federal firearm laws, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has refiled legislation that would impose a lifetime ban on possession of firearms for individuals convicted of domestic violence.
Federal law provides that any person who is convicted of a domestic violence offense may not purchase a firearm, but the Rhode Island statute in its current form does not address convictions of domestic violence misdemeanors for the purposes of purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting or possessing.
The legislation amends section 11-47-5 ("possession of arms by person convicted of crime of violence or who is a fugitive from justice") to provide that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense enumerated in section 12-29-2 cannot purchase, own, carry, transport or have a firearm in their possession.
"Domestic violence often escalates in severity and having a firearm in the home in which abuse occurs increases the likelihood that domestic violence victims will be killed by their abuser. Moreover, abusers use firearms as a tool to control and intimidate their victims," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "The goals of this legislation are to protect victims of domestic violence and bring Rhode Island into compliance with federal law, while not infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners."
According to a survey conducted by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 10 percent of abusers have fired a gun during an argument. And, according to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, having a gun in the home increases the risk of domestic violence homicide by at least 500 percent, and in households with a history of domestic violence, the risk increased 2000 percent.
A more troubling statistic by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser is a firearm owner. In fact, nearly two thirds of female homicide victims killed with firearms were killed by an intimate partner.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia prohibit the possession and purchase of a firearm by a person that has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
The legislation provides that a person will not be considered to have been convicted if the conviction has been expunged or set aside, or the person has been pardoned or had their civil rights restored, unless the pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not purchase, own, carry, transport, or have in his or her possession any firearm.