Domestic violence shelter says new Columbus gun laws will help lower statistics

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It's the only domestic violence shelter in Franklin County. Choices can sleep 51 people. Currently, there's 67 staying there.

"We say to them we're full but if you're in danger we will take you in regardless," Choices Executive Director, Sue Villilo said. "And people come in anyway. They sleep on the floor. They sleep on couches."

Villilo says that speaks louder than she ever could.

"That speaks to the level of danger that they're in their home and how desperate they are to get out of it," she said.

In the state of Ohio in 2017, Villilo says there were 116 domestic violence homicides. She says 86 percent of those crimes involved a gun.

"We know that if a gun is present in a [domestic violence] situation a woman is 500 times more likely to be murdered," she said.

In Columbus, she's hopeful local statistics will drop thanks to new city-wide legislation.

"It's an excellent idea," she said.

The city of Columbus voted, Monday, on what it calls "common sense" gun laws.

"This package was about keeping our community safe," City Council President Shannon Hardin said. "It's about doing what we can do as a city to make sure that we are abating gun violence in Columbus."

As part of the new laws, the city will prohibit possession of a weapon if a person was previously convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or is currently the subject of a protection order.

"This truly is sensible gun legislation," Villilo said. "It's keeping a gun from a person who has committed an act of violence."

A surrendered firearms ordinance means weapons seized in connection with an arrest for domestic violence or violating a protection order will be retained until the expiration of the order, or until the end of a criminal case.

Villilo says these new laws will save lives.

"This truly will prevent murders," she said. "And, I can't think of something that would be more important to do."

And, in the process, she hopes the new laws will alleviate the need at her shelter.

Villilo says a 24-hour hotline is available for people dealing with domestic violence. That number is 614-224-4663. You can also learn more information about Choices here.