An Update on Domestic Violence Law

October 18 2021 | Committees

Latest Statistics on Louisiana Domestic Homicides

Each year, the Violence Policy Center uses data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report to determine the number of homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender.  This report does not include others (children, bystanders, perpetrator suicides) killed in domestic homicide events, but it gives us an idea of where Louisiana stands in comparison to the rest of the nation.  The VPC uses the most recent data available which is two years prior to the release of its annual report.

In the year 2014, when the Louisiana Legislature took the first of many major steps to come to provide more protections for domestic abuse victims, Louisiana was ranked #2 in the nation.  In the 2014 session, laws were enacted to provide for an immediate divorce for victims of domestic abuse or for those who had been granted a protective order from their abusive husbands.  In this same session, laws were enacted to prohibit an abuser from possessing a firearm  for the duration of a protective order and for 10 years following the completion of a sentence following any conviction for domestic abuse battery. 

Notably, our 2014 domestic abuse battery criminal statute did not include dating partners (known as the “boyfriend loophole”) and the firearm dispossession statutes did not provide a mechanism for transfer of a firearm from a person subject to a protective order of convicted of domestic abuse battery.  (The crime of Battery of a Dating Partner was established during the 2017 session, closing the boyfriend loophole, but excluding a first-offense conviction from firearm dispossession.)

Despite these laws, Louisiana ranked #2 or #3 in national domestic homicides using data from 2015-2017.  This changed in 2018 when Louisiana dropped favorably to #5 and maintained that position in 2019.  It is really too soon to know precisely why the domestic homicide ranking dropped.  Was it because of the 2014 dispossession laws or what is because of what the Legislature did in 2018?

The Domestic Violence Firearm Transfer Law became effective October 1, 2018 and was revised in 2019, requiring a judge to order the transfer of all firearms and the suspension of a concealed handgun permit from a person convicted of Domestic Abuse Battery, second convictions of Battery of a Dating Partner or subject to an injunction or protective order.  The DVFTA requires identification of the number and location of all firearms in the offender’s possession  and transfer to the local sheriff within 48 hours of the order.

2018 legislation increased the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm in domestic abuse cases from one to five years imprisonment to not more than  20 years imprisonment with or without hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  Illegal transfer to a prohibited possessor of a firearm now carries a penalty of not more than $2500 and/or imprisonment for not more than one year. Importantly, penalties for fraudulent firearm and ammunition purchases (lying to a firearm dealer or private seller) were increased from a maximum of a five thousand dollar fine and/or five years imprisonment to a mandatory imprisonment  for not less than 20 years. Finally, any NICS background check denial shall be reported by a licensed firearm dealer to local law enforcement where the attempted firearm purchase occurred.

These are strong laws – some of the strongest in the nation, but it is common knowledge that COVID-19 isolation and quarantine policies and the closure of schools and workplaces created dangerous situations where victims were forced to be in close vicinity with their abusers for long periods of time.  Only now are we staring to see the proliferance  of intimate partner, child and elderly abuse caused by the pandemic.   Gun violence is soaring nationwide and the media is filled with the most horrifying cases of child and elder abuse. 

In 2019, our #5 VPC domestic homicide rating included the fact that of the 52 murders of women by men in Louisiana, 66% were killed with a firearm unrelated to any other felony offense.  We will not know for certain if our firearm dispossession and transfer laws are working until we see the statistics for the COVID years.

To read the full report of When Men Murder Women, please go to VPC.org.

 

Upcoming Events on Domestic Violence

https://www.mobilize.us/brady/event/421918/#main-content

 

Kim Sport
Domestic Violence Committee Chair



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