Today, the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) announced the launch of the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s Safer Families, Safer Communities [external link] website. The website is a project of the newly-established resource center, designed to support the implementation and enforcement of domestic violence firearm prohibitions to reduce firearm-involved domestic violence and homicide.
In order to address the challenges that communities face in responding to firearm-involved domestic violence, Safer Families, Safer Communities provides a comprehensive approach for attorneys, prosecutors, court personnel, judges, domestic violence service providers, law enforcement and communities at large. The website highlights the importance of an approach focused on addressing five key areas: criminal, civil, federal, purchase prevention and resources. All five areas are implicated in successfully enforcing firearms prohibitions and disarming domestic violence offenders who illegally possess firearms.
The federal Gun Control Act prohibits people who are subject to certain orders of protection and those who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes against select individuals, among other classes of individuals, from purchasing, possessing and/or receiving firearms and ammunition. There are also tribal and state laws that have been enacted to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous domestic violence offenders, but due to the complexity of the laws and lack of guidance, these laws can be under-utilized and under-enforced. Through the assistance available on this website, OVW hopes to help agencies and organizations work together to prioritize victim safety so that communities are able to rise to meet these challenges.
* * *
OVW provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. In addition to overseeing 21 federal grant programs, OVW often undertakes initiatives in response to special needs identified by communities facing acute challenges.