Dallas County is at the forefront in Texas of enforcing a penalty on individuals charged with domestic violence. Officials in Dallas County will soon start collecting the guns from individuals convicted of domestic violence. Dallas County will become the first and only county in Texas to take guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders.
Dallas County officials believe that they will collect more than 700 weapons each year. Officials have an agreement with a private gun range near Love Field to provide storage space for the weapons collected under the new program. While state and federal law prohibits domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms, Dallas County did not have a system in place to accept surrendered guns.
“Firearm Surrender Project” to Collect Guns from Domestic Violence Offenders
Under the old system, authorities had to rely on the individuals’ promises after a court ordered them to not have any guns. Now, there is system in place to ensure compliance with court orders. County Criminal Court Judge Roberto Cañas, who is one of two judges who handles domestic violence cases, is leading the “Firearm Surrender Project.” Judge Roberto Cañas characterized the previous situation as “a gap in the system response to this type of crime.”
The Firearm Surrender Project, which Dallas County commissioners approved recently, will be initially funded with a $37,000 grant from the governor’s office. This amount will help with start-up, personnel, and storage costs. Program officials hope to receive more than double that amount under the second year of the program.
A recent online article in the Digital Journal laid out the process for how the new system will work. First, a judge will ask the convicted domestic violence offender if he or she owns a gun. If the answer is yes, the court will order the individual to turn over the gun. According to the WFAA, the court will also check with other sources to confirm if an individual owns a gun. These include speaking with the domestic violence victim, reviewing concealed handgun licenses, and searching other records that may indicate gun ownership.
Next, the individual must provide proof of compliance with the order. The individual can surrender one’s gun by making arrangements with the Sheriff’s Department. Or, an individual has the option to surrender one’s gun with a third party that is permitted to have the weapon. Storing a gun at a facility through the sheriff’s office, however, has an added benefit over storing it with a third party. Judge Roberto Cañas commented that when a domestic violence offender is ready to have the gun returned, “the sheriff’s office can give them the gun back and the offender can rest assured that their firearm will be secure.” With a third party, however, there are issues regarding storage and safety.
If you have any questions regarding domestic violence laws and penalties in Texas, you should contact an experienced domestic violence attorney.If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, get help now.