Second Amendment rights are a hot issue in a changing America. When a person thinks about what America was founded on they instantly think of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. As far as constitutional amendments goes; the second amendment is one of the big ones. Hence; the government must have a legitimate reason to take away a person’s gun rights.
Many states have laws that automatically suspend a person’s gun rights when there are even any pending domestic violence charges; let alone a conviction. Of utmost importance is the fact that Minnesota State law does not explicitly dictate a requirement to remove firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident. Unfortunately, in most instances, law enforcement will confiscate firearms at some point any way. How can they do this?
The fact is, that most domestic violence incidents result in Orders of protection; also known as “stay away” orders.
Minnesota passed a law in 2014 that incorporated federal laws on domestic violence. The newer laws delineate that a person may not possess a firearm during the duration of a domestic violence protective order or child protective order.
Other Types of Domestic Violence That Require Firearm Removal
If a person has been convicted of a stalking crime; they may be prohibited from possessing a firearm anywhere from three years to their entire lifetime. A person who has been convicted in another state of violence against a family member while using a firearm then their gun rights may be taken away in the state of Minnesota for up to three years.
An assault charge against a family member (whether a gun was used or not) in the state of Minnesota may allow a judge to suspend gun rights under a discretionary period.
Violating an Order of Protection and using a firearm during that violation can cause gun rights to be suspended between three years and the person’s lifetime.
Often at issue, is the fact that Courts are not even required to inform all offenders of the gun prohibition. This can leave a person open to additional charges in the event that they are involved in another domestic violence incident within three years of the first.
If a Court orders the removal of firearms in any of the above scenarios then the court will order the abusing party to transfer any firearms that the person possesses, within three business days, to a federally licensed firearms dealer, a law enforcement agency, or a third party who may lawfully receive them and who does not live with the abusing party. ((Minn. Stat. §§ 260C.201, subd. 3(d), 518B.01, subd. 6(g).)) At the end of the prohibitive period; the third party must give the firearms back to the person who surrendered them.
Problems with Domestic Violence and Removal of Firearms
One glaring issue with the above, is that domestic violence incidents (not to downplay the dangers of domestic violence) often result in the parties reuniting while an Order is still in effect. This effectively allows a disgruntled family member to be capable of suspending another family member’s gun rights for years.
Another issue is that the language orders the abusing party to surrender the guns. A person could quite easily drop off two of the ten guns they own and claim that’s all of them.
Either way, there clearly needs to be a more thorough and case specific way to address the firearms issue in domestic violence cases so as to ensure the safety and rights of all involved.