Domestic Violence and Third Party Dispossession
An important bill related to domestic violence and firearm dispossession will be presented today in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 3pm in Senate Hearing Room One. The legislation, SB1025/HB1224, would require any third party taking possession of a domestic offender’s firearms to submit a sworn affidavit to the court affirming that they are legally allowed to possess firearms and acknowledge receipt of the firearms from the offender.
“This is a straightforward piece of legislation that addresses a dangerous loophole in our system, one abusers can easily exploit,” explained Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “For nearly three years, we have been working with domestic violence advocacy groups, law enforcement, and district attorneys to determine what could be done to better protect victims and their families from abusers who too often are able to regain access to their firearms following their conviction. If this bill passes, it will be an important step in helping us achieve that goal.”
Under state and federal law, anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense is legally required to dispossess any firearms in their possession. In Tennessee, offenders can surrender their firearms to law enforcement, sell them to a licensed firearms dealer, or they may transfer them to a third party. Tennessee is one of only thirteen states that allow third party transfers, but of the thirteen states, Tennessee is the only one that does not require any information, even a name, to be provided about the third party, nor is the third party required to provide any proof that they are legally allowed to possess firearms or even acknowledge that they have agreed to keep the offenders’ guns.
“We believe that this legislation creates much needed accountability when it comes to keeping guns out of the hands of abusers who are prohibited by law from possessing them,” Roth said. “If Tennessee is serious about doing more to protect domestic abuse victims, we have to get serious about creating accountability around dispossession.”
You can read our flyer on SB1025/HB1224 here.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY THE NUMBERS
Tennessee is currently 5th in the nation for women murdered by men. We have consistently been ranked in the top ten states for women murdered by men.
STATES THAT PERMIT THIRD PARTY DISPOSSESSION
There are currently thirteen states, including Tennessee, that allow offenders to transfer their firearms to a third party. Of the thirteen states, Tennessee is the only one that neither requires the offender to provide any identifying information about the Third Party nor requires the Third Party to submit an affidavit to the Court.
Colorado – The Third Party must undergo an ID Services Background check to show that he or she is legally permitted to possess firearms. Both the offender and the Third Party must sign and affidavit in front of a notary.
Connecticut – The offender has two days from the event causing the ineligibility to possess firearms to sell or transfer their firearms. The person must obtain an authorization number for the sale or transfer from the Commissioner of Emergency Public Services and Public Protection and submit a sale or transfer to the Commissioner within two business days. However, pursuant to a 2016 law, anyone who becomes ineligible as a result of a domestic violence protective order must sell and firearms and ammunition only to a licensed dealer or surrender them to law enforcement.
Florida – The Third Party is required to submit a signed affidavit to the court.
Iowa – Iowa requires guns to be surrendered to law enforcement or to a Third Party, described as a “qualified person in this state, as determined by the state. If the court is unable to determine a qualified person, the firearms must be transferred to the county sheriff or local law enforcement.
North Carolina – Firearms must be immediately surrendered to law enforcement, but a Third Party can can file a motion requesting the return of the offender’s firearms to said Third Party.
Minnesota – The offender must file proof of transfer within two business days of the transfer. The proof of transfer must specify whether the firearms were permanently or temporarily transferred and include details of the transfer.
Oregon – The Third Party must sign and file an affidavit and, unless they are a family member, must appear before a licensed dealer and undergo a background check.
Pennsylvania – Third Party must accompany the defendant and report to the sheriff’s office in the county where the order was issued. If the sheriff determines the Third Party is not prohibited from possessing firearms, and confirms the Third Party has executed the required affidavits, the sheriff will issue a safekeeping permit to the Third Party.
Tennessee – An offender is issued a form where they indicate whether or not they possess firearms. If they indicate they own or possess firearms, they check a box to specify whether they sold their guns or transferred them to a Third Party. The offender is not required to provide any information about the Third Party to law enforcement or to the court. The Third Party is not required to file an affidavit affirming that they can legally possess firearms or even acknowledge receipt of the weapons.
Texas – The Third Party must sign an affidavit and the respondent is required to fax or email the affidavit and receipt from the Third Party facility within one day of receiving service of the ex-parte order.
Washington – The defendant and Third Party must be present in court prior to any transfer, and oral and written warning are provided regarding directive not to permit possession of firearms by the prohibited person and criminal liability for doing so. The Third Party must undergo a full criminal background check. Victims are are also provided with an opportunity to object to a Third Party transfer on safety grounds. Additionally, victims are notified Third Party transfers and to whom the firearms have been transferred.
West Virginia – The respondent must provided written proof of the firearms surrendered on a form required by the state. Written proof shall include a description of all firearms surrendered and the name and address of the Third Party who has taken possession of respondent’s firearms of their legal duties under state and federal law.
Wisconsin – Both the respondent and Third Party must attend a Firearm Surrender Hearing. In some counties, firearms must first be surrendered to the sheriff. If the Third Party comes to court for the injunction of Firearm Surrender Hearing, and the court approves him/her, then the person may be able to pick up firearms from the sheriff. The victim has the option tho object to the Third Party. Additionally, the Third Party is given notice of penalties for non-compliance.