Phone: 301-738-7770
Steven J. Gaba, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Phone: 301-738-7770

Bill limiting purchase of guns during divorce getting a rewrite

We've previously discussed the legal measures here in Maryland and throughout the country to try to keep guns out of the hands of people who have been convicted of domestic violence. According to the group Everytown for Gun Safety, 48 women are shot to death each month in this country by a current or former spouse or boyfriend.

One Georgia lawmaker made headlines earlier this month when he introduced a measure in the state senate that would make it illegal for anyone going through a divorce to purchase a gun without the permission of the judge in the case. The bill, which would have made such an act a misdemeanor, would not apply to any guns already owned by either spouse.

Not surprisingly, the bill received "some pushback," as the senator put it. Therefore, he is amending the bill to limit the law to those people with protective orders against them and cases where the couple has had a history of domestic violence.

In Maryland, people who have domestic violence protective orders taken out against them must turn in all of their firearms. However, Georgia has no such restriction. Even domestic violence victims' advocates say that they'd rather see the focus on stricter gun laws in that state for people involved in domestic violence than on prohibiting divorcing spouses from purchasing them.

The constitutionality of the original bill is certainly questionable. As one law professor noted, "Divorce is surely a tumultuous process, deeply distressing for many, and leading to violence for a few." However, he says that this doesn't justify "deny[ing] all divorcing people a constitutional right."

While the state senator behind the bill said that he's happy to have started a conversation about guns and domestic violence, it's questionable to many whether the bill will pass in any form in a state with a generally conservative legislature.

If you are going through a divorce or any kind of break-up and are concerned for your safety, it's essential to let your attorney know so that he or she can take action such as getting a protective order. Even if you are contemplating a break-up and are concerned about how the other person will react based on past experience, it's wise to take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Source: Huffington Post, "Proposal To Ban People From Buying Guns During Divorce Gets Pushback," Dana Liebelson and Melissa Jeltsen, Dec. 23, 2015

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