Domestic abuse advocates say gun surrender laws may help prevent more shootings

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — As investigators piece together the deadly Sutherland Springs church shooting, some organizations are looking at ways to prevent other shootings like it.

Domestic violence advocates say it’s possible something like this could have been prevented.

“So often we hear that this came out of nowhere and there were no warning signs,” said Bronwyn Blake, a legal director for the Texas Advocacy Project. “But when you look at the interpersonal relationships of the shooter there were a lot of warning signs.”

Before Devin Kelley carried out the deadliest mass shooting in Texas on Sunday, the former airman had a history of violent behavior. He spent 12 months in a military prison for assaulting his then-wife and stepson and received a bad-conduct discharge.

In retrospect, the warning signs were there, but systems in place are another thing. Right now, some believe it’s a system that may be fatally flawed.

“You can look at different risk factors that an abusive person has,” Blake said. “Owning a weapon is one of the most lethal risk factors there is.”

But in some cities, there is a push to prevent weapons from being a factor in domestic abuse. Dallas County is trying to fix what it calls a loophole that allows domestic abusers to keep their guns by legally disarming them after a judge decides a protective order is needed.

“There is a groundbreaking judge out of Dallas, Judge Roberto Cañas who has developed a gun surrender protocol for his community that is a model for the state of Texas,” Blake said. “So when someone gets a protective order or court order and their ordered not to have a gun anymore, there’s actually steps that they need to follow to turn over those firearms.”

 

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