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ICYMI: Committee Chair Says He Won’t Hold Hearing On Bill That Would Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

February 15, 2017

Wanted to make sure you saw the Indianapolis Star story reporting that Rep. Ben Smaltz said he did not plan to hold a hearing on House Bill 1534, a bill that would prohibit gun possession by domestic abusers subject to orders for protection, and require that prohibited abusers turn in their guns upon becoming prohibited.

These troubling comments from Rep. Smaltz, who chairs the House Public Policy Committee, came the same day as new polling demonstrating strong support among Hoosiers for legislation like HB 1534. Seventy-seven percent of the Indiana adults surveyed – including three in four gun owners and a majority of both Democrats and Republicans – support prohibiting anyone subject to a domestic violence protection order or convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from purchasing a gun.

In light of such broad support for this type of legislation, and the research showing the fatal consequences when guns are present in a domestic violence situation, it’s deeply troubling that Rep. Smaltz has indicated an unwillingness to even hold a hearing on HB 1534. That refusal would deprive domestic violence survivors and others a chance to testify before committee members about a life-saving bill that would close a dangerous loophole that currently allows Indiana domestic abusers easy access to guns.

Most states have laws that automatically prohibit domestic abusers subject to protection orders from having guns, but Indiana does not. These laws allow state and local law enforcement to protect women and families by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the woman will be killed. Research has also shown that cities in states that restrict access to guns by people subject to domestic violence restraining orders see a 25 percent reduction in intimate partner gun homicides.

More information about HB 1534 is available here.

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