WASHINGTON — After police say a Maryland woman was killed by her husband within hours of seeking a restraining order, a D.C. lawmaker is proposing a change to better protect victims of domestic violence.
Democratic Councilmember Mary Cheh,who represents Ward 3, said she wants judges in D.C. to have the authority to remove guns from anyone served with a protective order and to restrict them from buying firearms.
“This is just another instance of the danger of domestic violence and guns in the home,” Cheh said of the case of Candace and Calvin Carnathan in Charles County, Maryland.
Cheh is again introducing legislation to require anyone served with a temporary protection order to give up his or her firearms and be restricted from buying any firearms.
Cheh said she feels her bill, the Temporary Protection Order Firearm Amendment Act, will better protect domestic violence victims during the 14-day period between when a judge issues a protective order and the final hearing.
“To get this temporary restraining order, a judge has to make a finding that the presence of the gun under the circumstances poses an immediate danger to the woman. So if a judge makes that finding, that’s pretty dramatic. And it’s dependent upon that. It’s not automatic,” she told WTOP.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said his officers respond to hundreds of domestic violence calls a year.
“If you have a domestic violence situation going on and we know that there’s a firearm registered to somebody in the home, I think — better safe than sorry — that we should get an order from the courts to get that firearm out of there,” he said to WTOP, speaking generally about the threat a firearm poses and not specifically about Cheh’s legislation.
The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University found that the presence of guns in the home is associated with a threefold increase in risk of homicide compared to homes without guns. When previous domestic violence has occurred in the home, the risk of homicide is 20 times higher, according to information provided by Cheh’s office.