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The presence of firearms in an abusive relationship is one of the greatest dangers to victims, elevating the risk of intimate partner homicide by nearly five times. In this section, judges will find information on how they can effectively respond to domestic violence cases involving firearms, including procedures for removing firearms from domestic violence offenders and protection order respondents under federal and state law.

Dallas County Criminal Court 10 and the Response to Family Violence

Recognizing Dallas County Criminal Court 10 as a national leader, the federal Office on Violence Against Women designated it a Domestic Violence Mentor Court to serve as a model for jurisdictions seeking to strengthen the judicial response to family violence. Presided over by Judge Roberto Cañas, the court places a special focus on victim safety by providing links to community-based services, advocates, and protocols to ensure offenders surrender firearms. The court also promotes accountability through a specialized probation unit and close monitoring of defendants' compliance with court orders. This video provides an overview of the court and features interviews with the judge, lawyers, probation staff, batterer intervention program staff, and victim advocate associated with the court, as well as with a victim and defendant.

Four Lessons to Facilitate Transforming the Culture in Courts and Communities

Presented by Dr. Jay Otto, Center for Health and Safety Culture, Montana State University for the NCJFCJ’s Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP)

Domestic Violence and Firearms: Part II

The NCJFCJ’S Judge-in-Residence Steven Aycock and Senior Program Attorney Nancy Hart present an interactive discussion on effective ways courts can respond to domestic violence cases involving firearms. Around the country, courts are struggling with the practicalities of identifying domestic violence cases where firearms are present, verifying legitimate and safe transfers to third parties, and seizing and storing firearms owned by domestic violence offenders. This webinar builds on a previous discussion of federal laws related to domestic violence and firearms but can be taken independently by anyone wanting to learn more about best practices surrounding this complex issue. The faculty will discuss some effective examples from around the country, work through case scenarios, and field questions from participants. This exciting webinar designed for judges and court officials, offered through the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence and Firearms: Part I

The presence of firearms in a domestic violence case drastically raises the risk of lethality for female victims of domestic violence. Participants in this webinar will explore the many reasons why knowledge of federal firearms law is critical information for judges. Participants will review the structure of federal firearms rules affecting domestic violence offenders and analyze the most current United States Supreme Court cases on this issue. Topics of discussion will include Henderson v. United States, Castleman v. United States, law enforcement exceptions to federal firearms prohibitions, third party transfers of firearms by convicted offenders, and lethality.

Working in Tribal Communities to Protect Victims and Communities from Firearms in Domestic Violence Cases

This webinar will discuss challenges and strategies pertinent to Tribal communities that are involved in efforts to effectively implement firearms restrictions in domestic violence cases. It will also introduce professionals and communities to the FPSI, which soon will be selecting sites for in-depth technical assistance, training, and other support. The NCJFCJ and its partners will assist selected sites in assessing their implementation efforts and challenges, identifying gaps, and developing partnerships among community stakeholders, including federal partners, to design and implement practices that will enhance victim and community safety.

Overcoming the "Buts": Improving your Community's Response to Firearms and Domestic Violence Despite the Obstacles

This webinar will discuss approaches to various obstacles that often confront communities that are trying to work together to implement firearms prohibitions in domestic violence cases.  It will also update professionals and communities about the FPSI, which soon will be selecting sites for in-depth technical assistance, training, and other support.  The NCJFCJ and its partners will assist selected sites in assessing their implementation efforts and challenges, identifying gaps, and developing partnerships among community stakeholders, including federal partners, to design and implement practices that will enhance victim and community safety.

Judicial Leadership and Firearms in Domestic Violence Cases

During this webinar, participants will learn about:

  • How judges can take a leadership role – from the bench and beyond in promoting community safety in domestic violence cases involving firearms.
  • How community collaboration can enhance victim and community well-being.
  • Opportunities for courts and communities to use existing laws to prevent abusers’ aces to firearms in civil and criminal cases.
  • Effective strategies from jurisdictions around the country.
  • Effective use of laws, policies, protocols, and forms to improve court practice.

Moving Beyond the "Honor System": Effective Strategies to Prevent Prohibited Abusers' Access to Firearms

During this webinar, participants will learn about:

  • The factors that render firearm surrender requirements an “honor system” with no real accountability
  • Practice tips and strategies to move from an “honor system” to a “Culture of Compliance,” with a focus on what can be done at key steps of a civil protection order process

Overcoming Obstacles to Implementing Firearms Restrictions in Domestic Violence Cases

Firearms Technical Assistance Project Panel Discussion

  • Sheriff Craig Webre
    Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, LA
  • Lt. Valerie Martinez-Jordan
    Director of Police Social Services, Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Roberto Cañas, JD
    Former judge for Dallas County Criminal Court
  • Sandra Shanahan
    Program Manager, Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Unit, King County, WA

Firearms and Domestic Violence: Effective Court Response Part I

Presented by: HON. STEVEN AYCOCK, AND NANCY HART, JD

The presence of firearms in a domestic violence case drastically raises the risk of lethality for female victims of domestic violence. Participants in this webinar will explore the many reasons why knowledge of federal firearms law is critical information for judges. Participants will review the structure of federal firearms rules affecting domestic violence offenders and analyze the most current United States Supreme Court cases on this issue. Topics of discussion will include Henderson v. United States, Castleman v. United States, law enforcement exceptions to federal firearms prohibitions, third party transfers of firearms by convicted offenders, and lethality.

Firearms and Domestic Violence: Effective Court Response Part II

Presented by: HON. STEVEN AYCOCK, AND NANCY HART, JD

NCJFCJ's Judge-in-Residence, Steven Aycock, and Senior Program Attorney, Nancy Hart, present an interactive discussion on effective ways courts can respond to domestic violence cases involving firearms. Around the country, courts are struggling with the practicalities of identifying domestic violence cases where firearms are present, verifying legitimate and safe transfers to third parties, and seizing and storing firearms owned by domestic violence offenders. This webinar builds on a previous discussion of federal laws related to domestic violence and firearms, but can be viewed independently by anyone wanting to learn more about best practices surrounding this complex issue. Faculty will discuss effective examples from around the country, work through case scenarios, and field questions from participants. This exciting webinar was designed for judges and court officials and was offered by the NCJFCJ, and the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence.

Documents

  • Opens in new windowVoisine Case Update

    This case update was published by the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence on Voisine v. United States, a United States Supreme Court case addressing firearms, sentencing, and the interplay between intent and the elements of domestic violence. In Voisine, the United States Supreme Court considered how types of intent, including recklessness, knowledge and intentional conduct, can affect the definition of a domestic violence offense that triggers a lifetime prohibition under federal law. In this case update, judges can read more about how these important federal provisions are interpreted and applied.

  • Opens in new windowFull Faith and Credit: A Passport to Safety, A Judge's Guide

    Full Faith and Credit: A Passport to Safety, A Judge’s Guide (Passport to Safety) was developed in 1999 as part of the Office on Violence Against Women’s comprehensive effort to assist states, tribes, and territories with implementing the full faith and credit provision of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Since the original publication of Passport to Safety, VAWA was amended three times – in 2000, in 2005, and in 2013.  In 2005, the NCJFCJ revised Passport to Safety to reflect the amendments to VAWA, which expanded it from its original issuing and enforcing court cards to include new bench cards on firearms and child custody, visitation, and support. The NCJFCJ also added a Tribal insert to reflect the 2013 amendments to VAWA.

Links

  • Firearms and Domestic Violence

    Family courts know that domestic violence cases can easily escalate to dangerous, even lethal, levels particularly when an abusive party has access to firearms. Firearms laws have the potential to protect domestic violence victims and their children from lethal violence by limiting an abuser’s access to firearms. Through cutting edge training, technical assistance, and legal research, the NCJFCJ works with courts and communities nationwide to implement practices to ensure that courts protect victims of domestic violence from firearms lethality.

  • Solving and Preventing Homicides through Collaboration

    Mallory O'Brien, a researcher at the Public Policy Institute at Duke University, describes how the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, which she helped found and now directs, brings together a range of law enforcement, public health and other partners to solve individual homicides and support crime prevention.

  • Culture Matters: Grounding Abusive Partner Intervention Work in Culture and Community

    In this second episode, Juan Carlos Areán of Futures Without Violence, is joined by Jessica Nunan, executive director of Caminar Latino, and Lee Giordano, director of training at Men Stopping Violence. They discuss the importance of centralizing culture in working with people who use violence, something that traditionally has not been the focus of abusive partner intervention programs across the country. They discuss the formation of their culturally-responsive models, how they hold space for conversations about anti-racism in the group room with participants, and what is lost when conversations about culture and oppression are not included in the work.

  • With 11 Questions, Officers Assess Homicide

    David M. Sargent of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence has taught thousands of law enforcement officers how to implement the Lethality Assessment Program, which uses a short survey to assess victims' risk of being killed and a simple protocol to encourage them to get help.

  • Guns, Young People, Hidden Networks

    On this episode of New Thinking, hear from three of the people behind a remarkable year-long study into gun use, hidden networks, and young people published by the Center for Court Innovation, ‘Gotta Make Your Own Heaven’: Guns, Safety, and the Edge of Adulthood in New York City.