2017 Legislation

 

Our bill passed!

 

Law implements procedure that holds domestic violence offenders accountable for firearms dispossession

Advocates for Women’s and Kids Equality  (AWAKE), a Nashville, Tennessee based non-profit organization, led the effort to draft and lobby a bill that establishes a procedure to dispossess convicted domestic violence offenders of their firearms and improve victim safety. Today, AWAKE celebrates Governor Haslam’s signing the bill into law. Prior to the enactment of this law, there was no uniform procedure in place to instruct convicted offenders about how to dispossess their firearms or hold them accountable for dispossession.

According to the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee currently ranks ninth in the nation in terms of the number of women killed by men and is consistently ranked in the top ten most violent states for women.  Offenders with a history of domestic violence are five times more likely to murder an intimate partner when a firearm is present in the home.

Tennessee Defendants who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor are currently prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under both state and federal law.  Although this fact was verbally communicated to defendants prior to the entry of a guilty plea, the notice provided to defendants was deficient when compared to the information provided to respondents in civil Order of Protection proceedings.

The new law uses the existing notification and procedures in the Order of Protection context and applies it to convicted domestic violence offenders. By implementing these procedures in the domestic violence misdemeanor context, this law will ensure that every defendant is given information to understand the consequences of a guilty plea or conviction and provide greater protection for victims.

Governor Haslam will host a bill signing event on June 21st at 1:00pm at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville to sign SB 229/HB 1112 into law.  Haslam will be joined by bill sponsors Senator Becky Massey and Representative Andrew Farmer, members of AWAKE, organizational supporters from YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, and You Have the Power, as well as stakeholders and advocates who supported the bill.  Later this summer, on July 27th, AWAKE will celebrate with a reception – details to follow.

“Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating this major achievement for women and kids.  It will be a great opportunity to learn more about what AWAKE does for women and kids in our state,” said AWAKE’s Advocacy Director, Danielle Johns.

 

 

Domestic Violence Offender Notification (HB :  Rep. Farmer / SB 229: Senator Massey) 

Introduction:

Defendants who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor are currently prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under both Tennessee state and federal law.  Although this fact is verbally communicated to defendants prior to the entry of a guilty plea, the notice provided to defendants is deficient when compared to the information provided to respondents in Order of Protection cases.  Additionally, there is currently no procedure in place to dispossess convicted offenders of their firearms. This bill fills a gap in the current statutes that address notification and dispossession to mirror the notification and procedure that already exist for respondents in Order of Protection cases.

 

According to The Violence Policy Center: 

  • Tennessee currently ranks NINTH in the nation in terms of the number of women killed by men and we consistently rank in the top ten most violent states for women.
  • Offenders with a history of domestic violence are five times more likely to murder an intimate partner when a firearm is present in the home.
  • When men murder women, over 93% of women and are murdered by someone they know.
  • For victims who knew their offenders, 63% of the victims were spouses or intimate partners of their killers.
  • Over half of these victims were killed with a firearm.

 

What does this bill do? 

  • Uses the existing notification and procedures in the Order of Protection context and applies it to convicted domestic violence offenders.
  • Notification to offenders will ensure that every defendant is given information to understand the consequences of a guilty plea or conviction.
  • Using the procedure that already exists for Orders of Protection will ensure that every convicted offender receives and completes a form that further informs the defendant about firearm restrictions and when and how to dispossess firearms.
  • This bill does NOT create a new crime.

  

Conclusion: 

This bill will improve the safety of domestic abuse victims in Tennessee by implementing a notification and procedural structure for convicted domestic violence offenders that mirrors the existing procedures for Orders of Protection.