Domestic Violence, Firearms, and a Federal Registry: Equipping Victims to Enforce Lifesaving Legislation
Guns and domestic violence can be a lethal combination for victims. In the 1990s, Congress recognized this danger and passed two important pieces of legislation: one barring individuals subject to a protection order from possessing firearms, and one prohibiting the same from individuals convicted of domestic violence. Unfortunately, these laws have not been well-enforced. One major obstacle to their enforcement is the absence of a national registry of firearm ownership data. This informational void has effectively stripped the domestic violence gun bans of their teeth: even when barred from possessing firearms, abusive partners often simply lie and claim they have none in their possession. Victims are often unaware that their abusive partners have retained firearms illegally; little recourse is available when nothing can confirm that the partner owns a firearm at all.
This Article proposes a bold solution—the creation of a federal registry of firearm owners—and describes how a registry would save the lives of domestic violence victims. The Article tackles how the recent landmark Second Amendment decision of New York State Rife & Pistol Association v. Bruen would apply to a registry, and how the registry would survive even the heightened constitutional scrutiny this case created. A federal firearm registry is a critical, life-saving tool that will help enforce laws already on the books to protect domestic violence victims.
This country is reckoning with increasing gun violence and suffering the consequences of mass shootings often perpetrated by those with a history of committing domestic violence. This Article proposes a workable solution to start taking gun violence against domestic violence victims seriously.