The Unknown Known Risk.

Author:Rocker, Allison
Position:Gun control measures for domestic violence offenders
 
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In 2013, in the wake of a mass shooting at a movie theater the year prior, Colorado passed a collection of gun control measures, including the creation of a Firearm Relinquishment statute. 36 states have similar statutes that require a defendant who is subject to a mandatory protection order stemming from a domestic violence offense against an intimate partner (1) to relinquish any firearm and/or ammunition in his or her possession for the duration of the protection order. (2) Great news, right? No more firearms in the hands of suspected domestic violence offenders? Wonderful. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, domestic violence defendants in Colorado have been reluctant to volunteer this information or admit on the record that they possess firearms, whether legally or illegally obtained. (3)

We have no effective mechanism with which to contradict a defendant's silence.

In 2017, only six states and the District of Columbia have some form of firearm registration. (4) In Colorado specifically it is forbidden by statute for the state to maintain a "Firearm Database". (5) In addition, while Colorado requires that records be maintained for all private sales (via a dealer) and dealer sales, searching such records is next to impossible unless the identity of the specific dealer who sold or aided in the transaction and the precise timeframe the transaction took place is known. (6) Combing through firearm sales records in this fashion is tantamount to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Meanwhile, Colorado Bureau of Investigation regulations mandate that all information gathered through a background check pertaining to an individual that has been approved for purchase be destroyed within 24 hours. (7) It would appear that the only remaining avenue to determine whether or not a defendant is in possession of a firearm is to ask him or her in open court. Of course, a litany of 5th Amendment issues aside, defendants are generally--shall we say--hesitant to make this kind of admission. Several states address this issue through the use of immunity language or an injunction process. (8) Yet, even with included immunity language, when a defendant represents that he or she is not in possession of a weapon, the state of Colorado (and many other states) have no state gathered collateral information to contradict that representation. While almost every defendant represents that they are not in possession of a firearm statistically we know that...

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