Judges can remove guns in domestic violence cases

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Associated Press

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 10:02 AM

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — In the days before Cynthia Jean Goodrum's slaying, her estranged husband bought several firearms, an ominous sign in their tumultuous relationship.

After filing for divorce she had sought a temporary restraining order against her husband. But before he could be served with papers, Narada Goodrum fatally shot his pregnant wife on Dec. 27. Last week, he committed suicide while on the run in Las Vegas.

Since June, local courts have been using a new pre-trial tool by confiscating guns from some people who have been arrested in domestic violence incidents. Narada Goodrum had yet to be arrested, so the courts wouldn't have intervened under the new policy — although Bexar County deputies had removed a handgun in plain view when they responded to a disturbance between the Goodrums a week before the killing.

While the order is relatively new in the San Antonio area, it's long been in practice by other Texas judges, the San Antonio Express-News reported (http://bit.ly/UPLmZW). Nationally, judges are trained to adopt firearms surrender and order weapons removal for those named in protective orders as best practices in decreasing family violence, but the tools aren't widespread.

"It's hard to give a performance measure, and hard to pick out one factor, but there's no question that having a gun in the house increases the potential for domestic violence homicides," said Travis County Judge Michael Denton, who implemented similar procedures a decade ago.

Last year, El Paso County Judge Patricia Macias completed a protocol that's easily adoptable by others.

Macias told the newspaper that a man recently was arrested in El Paso in a domestic violence incident, and a protective order was issued against him. She found out that he'd given his arsenal to his mother upon learning his firearms would be removed, so Macias summoned the man's mother to testify in court.

After the woman said 15 weapons were under her bed, Macias ordered the weapons to be surrendered, and the woman brought them into the Police Department within 48 hours, the judge said.

Experts say multifaceted approaches have been effective, and that keeping abusers away from firearms helps.

Judges here and elsewhere say they haven't had much backlash to firearms surrender from people concerned about gun owners' rights.

"It's difficult in Texas to talk about removing firearms, but you have to be clear that it's not an anti-gun initiative," Macias said. "For us, it's been well-received."

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com

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