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Department of Justice charges 500+ domestic violence-related firearm cases in 2020

Posted at 10:31 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 01:31:58-04

NEVADA (KTNV) — The Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 500 domestic violence cases involving firearms during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.

A department priority since 2019 when Attorney General William P. Barr created the Department of Justice’s first-ever Domestic Violence Working Group, these charges are the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Acting Director Regina Lombardo has made domestic violence firearms-related investigations a priority, according to the department.

“Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminal offenders is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities,” said Attorney General Barr. “This is especially important when it comes to individuals with prior domestic violence convictions. The statistics are clear that when domestic violence offenders have access to guns, their partners and their families are at a much greater risk of falling victim to gun violence. In fact, in some communities across America, roughly half of the homicides are related to domestic violence. The Department of Justice is committed to keeping guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited from having them, and we will continue investigating and prosecuting all domestic violence firearms-related crimes.”

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“According to the CDC, data suggests that about one in six homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner,” said ATF Acting Director Lombardo. “Nearly half of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. ATF is committed to aggressively pursuing prohibited possession of firearms due to domestic violence convictions and certain protective orders. It is another way we prevent violent gun crime within our communities.”

Over the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada has charged 32 firearms cases related to domestic violence, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich.

Those cases encompass matters where federal firearms charges arose from the defendant’s arrest during a domestic violence incident, cases where the defendant previously had been convicted of a domestic violence offense and/or was subject to a domestic violence protective order, and matters in which the charging document references domestic violence in the defendant’s criminal history.

“With appreciation for additional resources provided by the Department of Justice, our office is making a renewed push to prosecute domestic violence offenders who illegally possess guns,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “I am honored to represent the District of Nevada on the Domestic Violence Working Group, and prioritize these critical cases through Project Veronica. Along with our law enforcement partners, our combined efforts are targeted at preventing domestic violence fatalities, as well as holding accountable individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms.”

Under federal law, individuals with domestic violence misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders, are prohibited from possessing firearms. The data shows that offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a high risk of homicide. In fact, domestic violence abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners.

The Working Group, chaired by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox, of the Northern District of Texas, disseminates legal guidance on keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers using three federal statutes:

-18 USC § 922 (g)(1), felon in possession of a firearm
-18 USC § 922 (g)(9), possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (misdemeanor crime of domestic violence)
-18 USC § 922 (g)(8), possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order

Based on the Working Group’s guidance, in FY 2020, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide brought 337 domestic violence felon-in-possession charges, 54 possession while subject to protective order charges, and 142 possession by a prohibited person charges.

For more information on domestic violence or to get help, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline.