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Texas judge rules taking guns from respondents of protective orders unconstitutional

A federal judge’s recent ruling on gun rights raised a red flag for domestic abuse victim advocates.
Posted at 6:25 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 19:25:48-05

CORPUS CHRISTI — A federal judge’s recent ruling on gun rights raised a red flag for domestic abuse victim advocates.

District Judge David Counts, who serves in the western district of Texas, ruled it was unconstitutional to take gun rights away from people under a protective order.

In September, he made a similar ruling that people under federal indictment could legally possess a gun because they haven’t been convicted.

Normally, under a protective order, judges who consider someone dangerous to their family or partners can require that person to hand over their guns.

Counts argued if a person hasn’t been convicted, why take their second amendment rights away?

According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, or TCFV, in 2021 more than 70 percent of domestic violence victims killed, were killed with a firearm.

And in Texas, over the last decade, the number of women killed by an intimate partner doubled.

TCFV fears the number will increase if abusers are able to keep their guns.

“If the judge’s logic is that there’s not a history of domestic abuse law that allows people to have their guns taken away from them,” Matt Manning, an attorney said. “Then, there frankly, is not a history, a long standing history at least to you having an individual right to own a weapon.”

Manning has taught constitutionality.

He said getting a protective order isn’t just a matter of making accusations and taking away someone’s gun, it’s a process similar to when someone is put on bond.

“The idea of, there’s been credible evidence, a judge has found that it’s likely to occur again and is taking away the weapon in the meantime,” Manning said.

He said a judge has a responsibility to keep society safe.

“I think the judge’s order is problematic because our individual right to own a weapon is a very new right in the context of legal right,” Manning said.

Manning said that right is only about 20 years old.

“Really, the question is how do you reconcile those two things and I think we as a society want to have safe communities thank judges need to have the ability to take away weapons in instances where they thin someone may be harmed by them,” Manning said.

TCFV officials said they are agonizing over counts opinion and sent KRIS 6 the following statement:

“At the center of our efforts is a devastating threat to safety – when domestic violence and firearms intersect, it creates a proven lethal mix for victims, law enforcement and communities at large. TCFV applauds the Texas lawmakers who codified restrictions over two decades ago that temporarily prohibit convicted domestic violence perpetrators and respondents of protective orders from possessing firearms. These laws were enacted with a singular intent: to protect victims from individuals proven to be dangerous by Texas courts. TCFV is committed to continuing to educate Texas courts and policy makers about the importance of upholding these laws, including developing and carrying out protocols to transfer firearms from prohibited possessors at the local level in an efficient manner respectful of 2nd Amendment rights.”