A Dallas court forbade Tyrone Allen from possessing a firearm in a family violence protective order against him, but no one forced the man to turn over his 9 mm handgun. Just weeks later, he says, he used it to go on a deadly shooting spree, killing his girlfriend and their baby. Their deaths represent a significant flaw in how Dallas County handles domestic violence cases, says the Dallas Morning News, which found that judges and police routinely fail to enforce laws that prohibit certain domestic abusers from having firearms, leaving the victims and the public at risk.
Much attention has been paid to domestic violence in Dallas this past year. Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates have pushed to prevent domestic homicides. There has been little talk about access to guns, which research shows is a telltale factor in predicting whether a domestic violence situation will turn lethal. One study found that access to guns increases a woman's chance of being killed by an intimate partner by five times, even when controlling for severity of abuse. In Texas, 61 percent of women killed by an intimate partner between 2008 and 2012 were shot, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. Dallas County officials say the firearm ban is difficult to enforce because of holes in the law. The News concluded that the county's failure to adopt a gun-removal program reflects its own inaction. Judges, police and politicians have long been fumbling for solutions as other counties found ways to enforce the law.