Friday, August 11, 2006

The Lautenberg Amendments and the Ability to Possess a Firearm

One of my correspondents discussed the Lautenberg Amendments, as they are known to the law enforcement community, in a recent phone call.

For the three guys who've been in a sub under the polar icecap watching the North Koreans for the last fifteen years, the Lautenberg Amendments to the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibit the possession of firearms by any person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

In practice what this means is that if one has ever been convicted of a crime of domestic violence one is forever barred from possessing firearms and therefore cannot be a sworn peace officer if that job involves handling or carrying firearms.

I remarked to my correspondent that I was quite sure that the Lautenberg Amendments were not the end of the story and that there were other provisions of law that had a similar effect, with a subsidiary set of problems, and of course, we here at the Iowa Law Enforcement Reporter were, as usual, right.

In fact, the Violence Against Women Act prohibits the possession of firearms by persons who are subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Although there is an exception for serving officers, this exemption does not include possession of firearms while off duty.

Where this becomes complicated for departments is the fact that ex parte restraining orders may be obtained under Iowa Code Ch. 236, and because this is a civil matter, tracking is not available through the usual state and federal channels.

Here's a good article on the Lautenberg Amendments.

and one on the VAWA prohibitions.


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