Based on a study of a representative sample of domestic violence protective orders issued in one year in Iowa, researchers estimated that judges failed to enforce federal law prohibiting possession of firearms by domestic violence offenders in approximately 72 percent of the orders (1,800/2,500). State district courts are legally bound to enforce federal law.

The report contains detailed breakdowns of decisions made by individual judges and has excerpts of testimony from victims of domestic violence.

This report also contains copies of the relevant forms involved in domestic violence protection orders and highlights how clear the instructions are that judges are disregarding.

The results of the study were used to pass a state law to codify federal law into state law to increase compliance with this key public safety provision.

This study should be used as the gold standard for how to structure a study to prompt action by legislators on the issue of non-enforcement of federal domestic violence prohibitions by state judges.

Citation: Johnson, John, and Leah Woodward, Arming Domestic Abusers: Failure of Iowa Courts to Uphold Federal Laws That Prohibits Possession of Firearms to Domestic Abusers, Cedar Rapids, IA: Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, June 2006

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