Hillsborough State Attorney Announces Gun Crackdown

On Wednesday, December 13th, 2017, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced a new initiative for the county. This new policy involves taking away guns from those who have been charged with a domestic violence-related crime. Florida law bans gun ownership for those who have been convicted of a felony or those who have a domestic violence injunction against them. Federal law bans gun ownership for anyone who has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. Despite these already stringent laws, Warren aims to “fill in the gaps” of existing laws. Warren stated, “Every time we allow a domestic abuser access to a firearm, we put that abuser’s partner, our law enforcement officers and the entire community in danger”, citing the reason for the initiative.

Warren will order law enforcement to interview both victims and offenders of domestic violence crimes, in order to determine if the offender has access to a gun. After the assessment, a background check will be performed to see if the offender is legally prohibited from owning a gun. Warren’s initiative has two goals: to remove guns from domestic violence abusers and to make sure that domestic violence abusers cannot acquire new guns. Despite statutes that are already in place, inconsistent enforcement of the laws has allowed many domestic abusers to purchase and obtain firearms.

Prosecutors will be ordered to seek gun relinquishment as a condition of any release, plea agreement, or probation (including diversion programs). Those who have clean criminal records but have been arrested for domestic violence will be subject to relinquishment as well while the case is pending. If the defendant is not found guilty and there is no legal reason why they should not possess a gun, the order will be lifted.

Warren emphasizes the need to protect domestic violence victims from future harm. Between 2012 and 2016 there were 61 domestic violence homicides in Hillsborough. Between 2010 and 2016, firearms were used in half of all domestic violence homicides (FL Coalition Against Domestic Violence). In 2013, a 22-year old Tampa woman was shot in the head by her boyfriend, who was a convicted felon. She was eight months pregnant at the time.

Between 2009 and 2016, 54 percent of mass shootings in our country were related to domestic violence. One third of these shootings involved a shooter that was legally prohibited from owning a firearm (Everytown for Gun Safety). Warren cites the disturbing connection between domestic violence and mass shootings as a reason for his new initiative.

The policy was created in conjunction with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, as well as local police departments in Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. Warren emphasized that the success of the initiative will depend on the cooperating and hard work of law enforcement.

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If you or someone you know has been charged with a gun related crime, contact an experienced Tampa gun crimes attorney at Pallegar Law, P.A. today. Call 813-444-3912 for your free consultation.

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