If you're convicted of domestic violence, you shouldn't have a gun

Wednesday , February 15, 2017 - 5:00 AM8 comments

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

This is the cost of domestic violence in Utah: One life a month.

And this is how to reduce that number: Pass HB 206.

HB 206, sponsored by Rep. Brian King, makes it illegal for people convicted of domestic violence or subject to protective court orders to possess firearms in Utah.

King’s bill aligns state law with federal statutes — and that’s the key to protecting Utahns, King said.

"It makes it much more likely that, for individuals who already shouldn't have a gun because they have been convicted of domestic violence or have a protective order entered against them … that we have the resources to go after those individuals, identify them, and get the guns out of those individuals' hands," King told McKenzie Romero, a reporter for the Deseret News.

How many lives would HB 206 save? Even one justifies the law.

But it will save more than one life. Just look at the statistics:

• About every 33 days, Utah records an intimate partner-related homicide, according to the Utah Department of Health.

• Nearly half of those homicide victims — 44 percent — die at the hands of their spouses.

• A third of domestic violence killers commit suicide.

And the presence of a gun in a home only makes things worse.

"If you have prior domestic violence and a gun in the home, the likelihood that a woman dies increases dramatically," said King, a Salt Lake City Democrat.

How dramatically? The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports.

By taking guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic abuse or named in protective orders, Utah can reduce that risk.

The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee unanimously endorsed the bill Friday, sending it to House floor.

The sooner it becomes law, the sooner Utah can begin saving the lives of domestic violence victims.

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