In the US state of Iowa, a new law requires that anyone convicted of domestic abuse and anyone who is listed on a no-contact order cannot own or sell guns. It will strengthen a federal firearms ban that is already in effect by giving local law enforcement officials more authority to collect guns.

Top priority

The gun ban has been a top priority of Attorney General Tom Miller and other prosecutors. They argue the law could help save lives because many domestic violence cases have ended in homicides where the weapon used was a gun.

The new restriction is effective 1 July 2010.

Attorney General Tom Miller said:

"I am elated that this proposal now will become Iowa law. It will save lives. It will help prevent women, men and children from being terrorized, maimed and killed by violent abusers."

"More than half of Iowans killed in domestic abuse murders since 1995 (111 of 205) were killed by firearms – including 26 children and bystanders who were shot and killed in domestic violence attacks. Furthermore, even when victims aren’t killed, guns often are used to control and terrorize victims."

"The law will only remove guns from domestic abusers, and only after a person is given notice and an opportunity to be heard in court. It will not take guns away from law-abiding citizens and, if a gun-owner has a no-contact order and then that order expires, then the person will be able to possess a gun again."

"I commend the Legislature for passing this bill, by wide margins and with bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate."

"I applaud domestic violence advocates -- and victims -- for their courage and dedicated work in urging passage of the bill. I thank lawmakers of both parties for supporting the bill, and the governor for signing it."

Laurie Schipper of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence says it took 10 years to convince legislators to pass the law.

"I really do feel like we have shifted a bit in attitudes and priorities,” Schipper says. “As difficult as this bill was to lobby for, the conversation was different this time. People were much more enlightened and aware and concerned."

"To every survivor and to all families of homicide victims who spoke up and in some cases risked personal safety to tell their stories — thank you," Schipper said. "We applaud your bravery for sharing your experience, your pain and your hope."

A few Iowans who’ve seen their kinfolk killed by an abusive partner turned out for the bill signing ceremony. Jesse James of Dubuque spoke through tears as he talked about his daughter. “Our daughter, Holly, was murdered by her husband at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on July 8, 2008,” he said. “She had two beautiful children and she had endured harassment. She had done the no-contact orders and she was breaking away from the relationship when he chose to take a gun and shoot her in the head and end her life on this Earth.”

Although this law would not have helped his daughter in North Carolina, James predicts the lives of some Iowa woman may be saved when police take guns away from convicted domestic abusers and those who’re the subject of a no-contact order.

“It’s our greatest hope that it will help women in our state,” James said. “We also believe that this law sends a message to everyone in our state and outside of our state that we here in Iowa are above letting this kind of thing happen.”

Taken from a range of articles on KCCI Des Moines,