U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox in Northern Texas held a press conference last month to announce steps she is taking to reduce deaths from domestic violence.
Cox introduced an initiative called “Abusers with Guns.” Its mission: to prosecute people who should not have firearms because of prior domestic violence misdemeanors, felonies, or protective orders, The Trace reports.
“Not only could the Justice Department theoretically prosecute you for firearm possession, but in the Northern District of Texas, we will prosecute you,” said Cox. “And upon conviction, the penalties will be swift, stiff, and serious.”
Cox has established one of the nation’s most aggressive records for prosecuting domestic abusers who unlawfully keep guns. In fiscal year 2018, she prosecuted 23 people with the lead charge of unlawful gun possession despite a prior domestic violence misdemeanor conviction, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse database.
Just four years earlier, only 23 people in the entire U.S. were prosecuted under the federal statute banning people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing firearms.
“Domestic violence cases are just a no-brainer because of the violence associated with them,” said Cox. “If I have limited resources … why wouldn’t you prioritize going after domestic violence felons if you know that they’re high-risk offenders?”
In the past five months, U.S. Attorneys in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Vermont have also said they are using the force of federal law to crack down on these crimes. According to the Justice Department, there has been an 80 percent increase in the past two years in the number of people charged under the federal law banning those convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing firearms.
Additional reading: See TCR’s Resource Page on domestic violence.