Minnesota domestic violence survivors, advocates and law enforcement today applauded Senator Ron Latz’s introduction of SF 2639, legislation that will save lives and protect women and families by keeping guns out of the hands of convicted stalkers and domestic abusers. Current Minnesota law prohibits abusers convicted of domestic assault from possessing handguns but is silent as to their ability to possess assault weapons and other rifles and shotguns. The bill will close this loophole, a critical step since nearly one in five domestic homicide victims are murdered with a shotgun or rifle. SF 2639 will also protect victims of domestic violence and stalking by ensuring that those who are prohibited by law from possessing guns are actually disarmed.

In Minnesota, the number of domestic violence murders rose dramatically in 2013, more than doubling 2012 numbers. Research shows that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. SF 2639 will help protect women and families by keeping guns out of dangerous hands.

“This bill is a measured and carefully tailored effort to reduce domestic violence focusing on those who already have a proven propensity and track record of violence, said Senator Ron Latz of St. Louis Park. “I am pleased that we have a broad spectrum of support from gun owners and victim advocates coming together to take these important steps.”

“My daughter Carolyn was murdered by her husband several days after she filed for divorce. He had previously stalked her—and that day, he shot her eleven times outside of the house where she was employed caring for disabled women,” said Marree Seitz of Duluth. “With laws in place that would keep guns away from dangerous people and domestic abusers, we can prevent Minnesota families from going through the pain of losing a loved one. I urge the Legislature to pass this important bill that will keep women and families safer from domestic abusers.”

“This legislation is a simple but vital tool for disarming convicted stalkers and domestic abusers, who clearly shouldn’t be in possession of guns,” said Bill Krause, a lifelong gun owner and hunter in Plymouth. “I value my Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as much as anyone— and I know that while common-sense laws to reduce gun violence don’t infringe on that right, they do save lives and keep women, kids and families safer.”

“The statistics and research from the past ten years clearly demonstrate that firearms in the hands of abusers greatly increase the risk that a domestic assault may become a domestic homicide,” said Carol Arthur, Executive Director of the Domestic Abuse Project. “What’s more, 50 percent of all domestic violence murders in Minnesota in the past three years involved firearms. I strongly support this legislation to limit access to firearms in cases of documented domestic violence.

“It is unconscionable that our laws put domestic violence and stalking victims in danger of murder by a firearm—and that they may be in even greater danger once they take out a protective order against their abusers,” said Chief John Harrington. “This bill will protect those victims by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers who have had protective orders issued against them, and will assist local and state law enforcement with keeping guns away from convicted stalkers and domestic abusers.”

Details on SF 2639 are below:

SF 2639 will keep rifles and shotguns—not just handguns—out of the hands of domestic abusers:

Ø Nearly one in five domestic violence gun murders in the U.S. is committed with a shotgun or rifle.

Ø Although Minnesota law prohibits abusers convicted of domestic assault from buying or possessing handguns for a period of three years, these criminals are not prohibited from buying or possessing assault weapons or other shotguns or rifles.

Ø This bill would close this loophole and prohibit criminals convicted of domestic assault from possessing all guns, including rifles and shotguns.

SF 2639 will disarm convicted stalkers:

Ø A study of incidents in 10 major U.S. cities found that nearly 9 in 10 attempted murders of women involved at least one incident of stalking in the year before the attempted murder.

Ø Minnesota prohibits convicted stalkers from possessing guns for a period of three years after the conviction, regardless of whether a gun was used in the commission of the crime. But Minnesota law only requires criminals to surrender guns used in the commission of the stalking crime.

Ø This bill would protect stalking victims by requiring the surrender of all guns possessed by a criminal prohibited due to a stalking conviction, regardless of whether a gun was used in the crime.

SF 2639 will disarm domestic abusers:

Ø People with a history of committing domestic violence are more likely to subsequently murder an intimate partner, and the presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.

Ø The bill would require that criminals who are prohibited from possessing guns due to a domestic assault conviction relinquish all guns in their possession.

SF 2639 will protect victims who take out domestic violence protective orders against their abusers:

Ø According to 2010 study published by the Journal of Injury Prevention, state laws restricting access to firearms for those under domestic violence restraining orders were associated with a 25% reduction in intimate partner gun deaths.

Ø Unlike federal law, Minnesota state law does not prohibit gun possession by people subject to domestic violence protective orders.

Ø This bill would make it a state crime for domestic abusers subject to protective orders to purchase or possess guns and would require that these prohibited people surrender guns in their possession, making it easier for state and local law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous abusers.

Senator Ron Latz
Ron Latz represents District 46, which includes portions of Hennepin County in the western Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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