12 Feb Domestic Violence Reform Targets Gun Control in South Carolina
Domestic violence is a serious reality for many families around the country. It was conservatively estimated between 2006 and 2015, on average, 760 people were killed annually as a result of gun violence perpetrated by spouses, ex-spouses, and romantic partners. The current domestic violence legislation does little in the way of connecting domestic violence deaths with access to firearms, and does not contemplate domestic violence between romantic partners who are not (nor were) married. States nationwide are starting to contemplate taking more stringent and serious measures relating to domestic violence and access to firearms.
In 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed into law a serious measure that strips domestic violence perpetrators of their firearms and guns. Furthermore, depending on the offenses that the perpetrator has been charged with, they may be unable to secure a gun for the rest of their lifetime.
The Domestic Violence Reform Act
The Act, known more formally as the Domestic Violence Reform Act, has had a significant impact on addressing domestic violence. This is through the creation, by the law, of a correlation between domestic violence offenses and gun ownership. In other words, if a person has been convicted of a violent offense, or has violated an order of protection, his/her gun rights are modified, altered, or even revoked for the rest of the perpetrator’s life. This is a significant change in domestic violence reform, and a step that many states have yet to take.
Revoking Gun Rights for Perpetrators
According to the law, possession of firearms and ammunition are prohibited for the life of the perpetrator if he or she has been found guilty of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. A person is found to be guilty of this offense when he or she:
- Commits the offense with extreme indifference to the value of life and/or the offense leads to great bodily harm
- Commits the offense and the victim has a reasonable fear that the perpetrator’s actions will lead to great bodily harm or death
- Violates, or is in the process of violating, an order of protection and commits domestic violence
What makes the crime of a high and aggravated nature is due to the presence of one or more of the following factors:
- The perpetrator uses a deadly weapon and/or attempts to obstruct breathing or circulation of blood of a household member
- The perpetrator commits the domestic violence in front of a minor
- The perpetrator commits domestic violence against a woman who is pregnant (this only applies if the perpetrator knew or should have known the woman was pregnant).
Revocation of Firearm Possession Rights for Lesser Time Periods
For example, a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition for a period of ten years if he/she is convicted of domestic violence in the first degree, which means the perpetrator:
- Caused physical injury or harm or threatened to cause physical harm or injury to his/her household member
- Violated a protection or was in the process of violating a protection order when the domestic violence was committed
- Had two or more prior domestic violence convictions within ten years from this offense
- Used a firearm during the commission of the domestic violence, among other serious factors
If the perpetrator was convicted of domestic violence in a lesser degree, he or she, depending on the circumstances, may be restricted from firearm possession for three years post-conviction or for the period in which an order of protection is valid and in effect.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Area
Domestic violence is a serious issue and affects many families within the community. An order of protection is just one of the ways in which to protect your family from domestic violence. It is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney at Klok Law Firm LLC who can provide guidance on the best way to legally protect your family from threats of domestic violence and if a divorce is a next step to end the abuse. Contact Klok Law Firm LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.