Guns and Domestic Abusers: Protective Orders and Gun Removal in Montgomery County, Maryland

Recognizing the extreme danger of guns in domestic violence situations, and the risk to victim safety posed by the Rahimi case, we believe it is timely to report on relevant laws in Maryland and practices in Montgomery County to keep firearms away from domestic abusers through use of civil protective orders. Part I of this report presents an overview of federal and Maryland law governing domestic violence protective orders and firearms, followed by a description of the protective order process in Maryland and procedures used by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to serve orders and remove guns. Data on the number of guns removed from abusers in Montgomery County also are presented. Part II of the report presents findings on the use of gun-related best practices by District Court judges at protective order hearings, based on data collected by Court Watch volunteers and our review of the protective order service process in Montgomery County. Conclusions and recommendations to address these findings are included at the end of the report.

Rate at which judges tell respondents to turn in guns varies widely

new Maryland gun laws

It’s the law. When a final protective order is issued in Maryland, all respondents must turn in any guns they possess to the Sheriff’s Office for the duration of the order. The rate at which District Court judges are telling respondents to turn in their guns, however, varies dramatically. One judge last year told respondents […]

District Court judge fails to warn respondents to turn in firearms

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department has many important jobs. One of their most important tasks is making sure that respondents who possess firearms turn them into the Sheriff’s Office for the length of their final protective order. Judges also have an important role to play in reminding respondents of the gun turn-in requirement at the […]

Domestic violence and mass shootings are linked

domestic violence and mass shootings

Domestic violence and mass shootings are far more closely linked than you might at first think. The Washington Post reports that before committing the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the Orlando shooter was an abusive husband who beat his wife repeatedly while they were married. The May 6 gun murder of two people (injuring […]

Judges fail to discuss gun restrictions with convicted abusers

convicted abusers

Court Watch’s new study shows judges told only 1 out of 126 convicted abusers they were banned from possessing or purchasing guns. When a domestic violence abuser has access to a gun the chances of a victim being killed rise 500%. Judges need to be actively applying Maryland law by informing relevant convicted offenders verbally and in […]

Memorial service for domestic violence homicide victims in Maryland

domestic violence homicide victims in Maryland

Between July 2013 and June 2014, 54 Marylanders lost their lives to domestic violence. 70% of the fatalities were due to guns. Last night a large crowd gathered in Annapolis to remember victims. Domestic violence homicides are preventable. New bills in the Maryland legislature would add protections for victims of violence in dating relationships and […]