Ohio lawmakers will introduce bill to protect domestic violence victims from gun violence

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 07:57:41-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- “We're watching too many tragedies occur,” said Ohio Rep. Janine R. Boyd.

Boyd and Rep. Nickie J. Antonio spoke exclusively with On Your Side Investigator Sarah Buduson about legislation they will introduce aimed at protecting domestic violence victims from gun violence Wednesday.

The Domestic Violence Protection Act would allow judges to remove guns from domestic violence offenders when a protection order is put into place.

Read more on our reporting of domestic violence here.

The act also creates a mechanism for offenders to surrender their weapons.

It would require offenders to provide documentation to the court within 48 hours of being served a protection order that says they have turned over their weapons to a law enforcement agency.

The agency would only keep the weapons while the order is in effect.

After a judge removes the order, the agency holding the weapons would return them to the offender.

"It's another tool in the toolbox of trying to be able to protect a victim,” said Antonio.

Antonio said it is critical to make sure offenders do not have access weapons after their victims obtain protection orders.

 “Once they get that protection order, in that first 24 hours is the most dangerous time for them,” she said.

On Your Side Investigators found victims are five times more likely to be murdered if their abuser has a gun.

We also found abusers exploit loopholes in the system.

During a twenty year period, close to 48,000 individuals under protection orders walked into gun stores to buy deadly weapons.

"I think we need to turn the volume up on sensible gun rights,” said Antonio. 

However, both lawmakers acknowledged passing their proposal will be an uphill battle in Ohio’s conservative-leaning legislature.

'Til death: How Ohio fails to protect women trying to escape abusive relationships

When asked what happened to a similar proposal, known as the “Safe at Home” bill, they introduced last year, Boyd said, “We didn’t even get a hearing.” 

Antonio said it is still important to keep fighting for laws she believes would save lives.

At the very least, their proposal will raise awareness about the risks faced by domestic violence victims.

“My glass is always half full and I believe that every time we introduce a piece of legislation we move things just a little bit further down the field,” said Antonio.

The Buckeye Firearms Association said the proposal is “not needed.”

Spokesman Jim Irvine agrees domestic violence homicides are a serious problem. However, he said the law is "not needed." He said he does not believe the proposal would change the behavior of an offender who plans to commit murder.