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article imageDallas County to take guns away from domestic abusers

By Andrew Ellis     Apr 22, 2015 in Crime
Dallas - Starting as soon as this week, the Dallas County Sheriff's Department will start taking guns away from those convicted of domestic abuse.
It's a historic move that will make Dallas the only county in Texas to collect and store guns taken from abusers, according to WFAA.
Paige Flink, executive director of Dallas domestic abuse shelter The Family Place, called said the measure a "landmark."
"Getting guns out of the hands of abusers will save lives," Flink said.
The Sheriff's Department said they expect to collect "upwards of 700 guns" this year at the privately-owned DFW Gun Range which will store the confiscated weapons, according to KHOU. Federal and state law actually prohibit those convicted of domestic abuse from owning guns, but, until now, Dallas County had no place to actually store the weapons.
The "Firearm Surrender Project" was approved by the Dallas County commissioners, and the governor's office gave them a grant of roughly $37,000 to help cover the start-up costs including the cost to keep a deputy at the location. Next year, they plan to ask for almost double that amount.
County Criminal Court Judge Roberto Canas has been heading up the project, which he said closes a gap in the system.
"Pretty much when I ordered guys that they couldn't have guns anymore, it was pretty much on your honor," Judge Canas said, and WFAA reports that he also convinced the DFW Gun Range owner Jim Pisoni to store the confiscated guns.
"We cater to gun owners," said Pisoni. "We provide a much more convenient and, I guess, friendly environment for them to come to."
The process of offenders turning over their guns goes like this: they will be asked if they own a gun, if they do, they will be ordered to surrender their guns, and show proof they complied. KHOU reports they can either make arrangements with the Sheriff's Department to turn them into the gun range where a deputy has been assigned, or they can make arrangements to hand the firearms over to a third party who can legally own a gun.
While the third party option is available, officials prefer offenders bring their guns to the storage facility at the gun range. The facility is safe and secure, and if offenders are allowed to get their guns back they'll know it hasn't been tampered with.
"In those situations where the offender can have the gun back, the sheriff's office can give them the gun back and the offender can rest assured that their firearm will be secure," said Canas.
Judges will also be talking to victims of domestic abuse, checking for concealed handgun licenses, and other records to see which abusers own guns, according to WFAA.
Cannas has also been training other judges on how the process works, and pans to expand the training to criminal defense attorneys and those who work in family court.
The "Firearm Surrender Project" also has statistics on its side. Recent numbers have shown that a woman is 500 times more likely to lose her life in a domestic dispute if a gun is present in the home, and firearms are involved in nearly 60 percent of domestic violence-related homicides in Texas. Those statistics are very familiar to Judge Canas.
"There's no doubt that the intersection of firearms and domestic violence is a very lethal one," said Canas, reports KHOU. "If we can take a step that will even prevent one homicide, this project will be worth it."
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