DOJ brings more than 500 Firearms-related Domestic Violence Cases
Mike Seals - October 7, 2020 10:05 pm
– Western District of Oklahoma’s “Operation 922” has Charged 124 Domestic Violence Related Cases Since March of 2018 –
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 500 domestic violence cases involving firearms during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. A Department priority since 2019 when Attorney General William P. Barr created the Department of Justice’s first ever-Domestic Violence Working Group, these charges are the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, led by Acting Director Regina Lombardo, who has made domestic violence firearms-related investigations a priority.
“Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminal offenders is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities,” said Attorney General Barr. “This is especially important when it comes to individuals with prior domestic violence convictions. The statistics are clear that when domestic violence offenders have access to guns, their partners and their families are at much greater risk of falling victim to gun violence. In fact, in some communities across America, roughly half of the homicides are related to domestic violence. The Department of Justice is committed to keeping guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited from having them, and we will continue investigating and prosecuting all domestic violence firearms related crimes.”
“According to the CDC, data suggests that about one in six homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner,” said ATF Acting Director Lombardo. “Nearly half of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. ATF is committed to aggressively pursuing prohibited possession of firearms due to domestic violence convictions and certain protective orders. It is another way we prevent violent gun crime within our communities.”
“The safety of our neighborhoods depend foundationally on the safety of our homes,” stated U.S. Attorney Downing. “Through ‘Operation 922,’ we join together the strength of federal prosecution with state, local, and tribal law enforcement on behalf of vulnerable members of our communities. Women and children who are subject to repeated abuse and violence deserve to be defended by those tasked with the ethical, vigorous, fair and impartial enforcement of the laws of the United States. Together, we work to counter the destructive presence of domestic violence in Oklahoma.”
Under federal law, individuals with domestic violence misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders, are prohibited from possessing firearms. The data shows that offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a high risk of homicide. In fact, domestic violence abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners.
The Working Group, chaired by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox, of the Northern District of Texas, disseminates legal guidance on keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers using three federal statutes:
- 18 USC § 922 (g)(1), felon in possession of a firearm
- 18 USC § 922 (g)(9), possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (misdemeanor crime of domestic violence)
- 18 USC § 922 (g)(8), possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order
Based on the Working Group’s guidance, in FY 2020, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide brought 337 domestic violence felon-in-possession charges, 54 possession while subject to a protective order charges, and 142 possession by a prohibited person charges.
Western District of Oklahoma
The Western District of Oklahoma was one of the first districts in the nation to specifically target domestic violence when, in March of 2018, it launched “Operation 922” as its local implementation of the national Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative. “Operation 922” specifically targets violent offenders who violate federal laws and have a history of domestic abuse, are subject to a victim protection order, have been previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, or who were arrested by law enforcement in response to a domestic violence related call.
Since March of 2018, a total of 124 domestic violence related-cases have been brought by the Western District of Oklahoma through “Operation 922.” These domestic violence related cases arose in 16 different counties across the Western District.