Ky. Federal Judge deems domestic violence gun ban unconstitutional
Local advocates say ruling endangers survivors
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A federal judge in Kentucky has struck down a federal law that prohibits individuals with a domestic violence order from owning guns, citing it as a violation of the Second Amendment.
Some advocates for domestic violence victims are concerned about the implications of the ruling, as it may pose a threat to their safety.
“Firearms are one of the most used weapons in domestic violence homicides,” said Barren River Area Safe Space Executive Director Tori Henninger. “Research and data clearly show that when perpetrators have access to firearms, a survivor is 1,000 percent more likely to die by that action, by the use of a firearm.”
BRASS reports that on average, two out of every three individuals killed from domestic violence lost their lives to firearms.
“This is a protection that has been afforded survivors as a way of helping keep them safe when a DVO [Domestic Violence Order] has been ordered and granted that they are able to know that they are legally responsible for turning in those guns, that they may have,” said Henninger.
The law in question, known as the Lautenberg Amendment, has been in place since 1996 and was designed to protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence.
“I definitely don’t think that we need to go backwards when it comes to protections,” said Henninger. “It’s really important for us to continue to respect that federal response responsibility that we have that when the DVO is in place, it’s really important for those rules to be followed, and that the firearm should be turned in, and that a person’s life matters.”
The Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence released a statement expressing their disappointment with the ruling, stating that “this decision puts domestic violence survivors at even greater risk and undermines important protections for victims.”
The case is expected to be appealed to a higher court, but in the meantime, advocates continue to urge lawmakers to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence.
“The reality is, is that every time we make it easier for people to wield power and control, we also make it easier for victims to die,” summarized Henninger.