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New law prohibits domestic abusers from possessing firearms

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Statistics show that when firearms are present in a domestic violence situation, women are five more times likely to die.

That was a statistic released from the office of Brian Moran, Virginia's Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Moran spoke with reporters today about the main, three new provisions in the Family Abuse Permanent Protective Order (HB 1391/SB 49) which will take effect July 1.

  • Prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
  • Requires individuals subject to these orders to sell or transfer their firearms within 24 hours of being served.
  • Creates a Class 6 Felony for individuals who continue to possess firearms, resulting in up to 5 years imprisonment, a $2,500 fine and permanent loss of firearms rights.

Secretary Moran said that in 2014, 66 victims of family and intimate partner homicide (FIPH) were killed in Virginia with a firearm.  Last year, 5,271 victims filed for a family abuse protective order.

Francine Ecker, Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) said victim's rights organizations pushed for and approved of this new legislation.  With it, Virginia joins 17 other states that explicitly prohibit possession of firearms during protective orders.

To help enforce the new provisions, the Virginia State Police modified the Virginia Criminal Information Network.  The modifications allow officers to know the exact time a family abuse order was served.  If a firearm is found in possession of the respondent past the 24-hour period, that person could be arrested and prosecuted.

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