New Approaches to Disarming Domestic Abusers
40 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2022 Last revised: 13 Sep 2022
Date Written: 2022
Laws prohibiting perpetrators of intimate partner violence from possessing firearms have long been on the books. But the failure to enforce them, thus allowing abusers to keep their weapons, has led to deadly consequences. While the criminal justice system has in recent years increased efforts to disarm domestic abusers, they have yielded minimal success.
It should be unsurprising that threatening criminal consequences for illegally possessing firearms has not been an effective strategy. Perpetrators knew they were breaking the law when they assaulted their partners, but did so anyway. And the calculated risk they take by not relinquishing guns often pays off due to a lack of coordination between the agencies tasked to verify compliance, as well as low prosecution rates.
Because criminal justice approaches have proven ineffective in dispossessing domestic violence offenders of firearms, alternative approaches are necessary. This Article, drawing from the fields of public health, international human rights, and anti-carceral feminism, explores such alternatives. It analyzes these theoretical areas to draw out commonalities— including a move away from exclusively carceral approaches, a focus on prevention, and an emphasis on community-based solutions—that can inform efforts to remove guns from the hands of domestic violence offenders.
Keywords: Domestic offenders, Intimate partner violence, Firearms, Crime prevention, Anti-carceral feminism
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