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.
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.