Ohio Bill Would Allow Courts To Take Guns From Those Convicted Of Domestic Violence

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Ohio may soon join other states in preventing those charged with misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a gun.

But as it stands now, Judges don't have the power.

On January 5, a deadly case of domestic violence unfolded in Chillicothe.

Detectives say Jerry Way shot and killed his sister-in-law April Lazar as her sister watched.

Inside Franklin County's only domestic violence shelter, it's not uncommon to see victims who've been shot by their partner.

“We've seen folks come to our shelter her in Columbus who have been shot by their abuser. We know that a woman who in an abusive situation is five times more likely to be murdered if the abuser has a gun,” Susan Villio, Executive Director of CHOICES, said.

In Ohio, there's no law that allows a judge to take a gun away from someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Federal laws allow guns to be taken felony domestic violence which involves repeated acts of abuse.

Representative Nickie Antonio said her bill would give judges more power in cases of misdemeanor domestic violence.

“The bill would allow judicial discretion in asking and commanding those convicted of domestic violence where there is a protection order in place to turn in their weapons,” she said.

It's a move applauded by those who run domestic violence shelters.

“It will have a huge impact, more than 75 percent of folks that are killed the result of a domestic violence incident are killed with a gun,” Villilo said.

Opponents of the gun bill, argue it would be unfair to a young person who made a bad decision early in life and now could not own a gun.

Antonio says she's willing to address that.

“Perhaps if someone has done their time and been rehabilitated that perhaps they could have their weapons back,” Rep. Antonio said.

Those who run the shelter believe this is a bill that makes sense because it has the potential to save lives.

“If we can keep the guns out of the hands of someone who is likely to kill their spouse or partner then that's something we should be able to do,” Villilo said.

Franklin County is seeing more victims of domestic violence seek safety inside the shelter.

Right now it only has room for 51 but is housing 70 people who are forced to sleep on the floor.

In 2014, the shelter served 214 people. Last year that number jumped to almost 800.

There is an effort underway to build a new Franklin County Domestic Violence shelter that will provide 120 beds for those in need.