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Iowa Attorney General
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March 21, 2007

Miller: Prohibit Domestic Abusers from Possessing Guns

Miller and others ask lawmakers to prohibit possession of firearms by persons convicted of domestic abuse assault or under a domestic abuse restraining order

Attorney General Tom Miller is urging lawmakers to pass legislation to prohibit possession of firearms by persons convicted of domestic abuse assault or persons under a domestic abuse restraining order.

“This law would help prevent women, men and children from being terrorized, maimed and killed by violent domestic abusers,” Miller said. “It would only remove guns from domestic abusers.”

Miller made the appeal at a news conference Wednesday at the Capitol, joined by lawmakers, former U.S. Attorney Charles Larson, Nancy Robertson of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Sgt. Joe Gonzalez of the Des Moines Police Department.

Miller showed dramatic footage of an Iowa woman being terrorized at gunpoint by her estranged husband – who set up the camera to shoot the video. “He was under a domestic abuse restraining order but was not prohibited from possessing the firearm,” Miller said. “This is a perfect example of why we need this law.”  Ultimately, the woman was not killed or injured in the incident, and she consented to the video being shown.

Miller said that 155 Iowans were killed in domestic abuse murders over the last ten years, and 93 of those were killed by firearms. He also noted that a major percentage – over one-fourth – of all Iowa murders are in domestic violence situations. “We must take action to reduce this kind of domestic terrorism,” he said.

“This is a non-partisan, public safety issue,” Miller said. He noted that former U.S. Attorney Charles Larson, Sr., was joining him in urging passage of the law, and that the measure passed the full Senate Judiciary Committee recently with bipartisan support.

“This law will not take guns away from law-abiding citizens,” Miller said. “It will only take guns from domestic abusers. If a gun-owner has a no-contact order and then the restraining order expires, then the person will be able to possess a gun again.”

Possession of firearms by domestic abusers already is prohibited by federal law. But Miller said the federal courts do not have the capacity to handle more than a tiny fraction of the violations of the law. A recent study found that only 28% of domestic abuse restraining orders issued by judges in Iowa prohibit the possession of a firearm, even though such possession is a federal crime. A state law similar to the federal law (and similar to laws now in effect in other states) will require the removal of firearms from ALL domestic abusers.


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