Thursday, April 15, 2010

Assemblyman Lancman Passes Legislation To Keep Guns Out Of The Hands Of Domestic Violence Perpetrators

“Domestic violence offenders have no business purchasing or possessing a firearm, which they could use to further terrorize their families. Statistics show that over one-third of all women homicide victims are killed with a gun by their male partners,” said Assemblyman Lancman.

A recent study found that one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.[1] Here in New York State, approximately 450,000 domestic incidents are reported annually to police departments.[2]

“New York is one of the safest states in the nation and it must stay that way. To achieve this, we must support laws that prevent violent persons from possessing weapons,” Assemblyman Lancman said. “Victims of domestic violence often have close, personal relationships with their abusers, and that is why they need special laws to protect them from additional physical, emotional and financial violence.”

The other bills passed in the Assembly’s domestic violence package would:

  • Prohibit employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence or stalking committed by a member of the same family or household; the legislation also includes a right for the domestic violence victim to a reasonable accommodation from the employer of unpaid leave to deal with legal and medical issues relating to the domestic incident (A.9018-A);

  • Prohibit housing discrimination against domestic violence victims by forbidding landlords and sellers of property from denying an individual the right to purchase, rent, lease or inhabit housing because of involvement in a domestic dispute (A.9020-A);

  • Require criminal or family court judges to inquire about the defendant’s or respondent’s ownership or possession of a firearm when orders of protection are sought (A.4320-A);

  • Establish the “Address Confidentiality Program” for domestic violence victims, by authorizing the secretary of state to accept service of process for victims of domestic violence and their children (A.10180);

  • Allow domestic abuse victims who have an order of protection to obtain an unlisted telephone number without charge (A.6509-A);

  • Expand the class of domestic violence victims who may cast special ballots (similar to absentee ballots) in elections to include non-relatives and individuals who have suffered emotional harm at the hand of an abuser (A.3910-A).

Another important piece of legislation that passed the Assembly earlier this year requires orders of protection issued in family court to be translated into the native language of the individuals (A.5273-A). This will allow non-English speaking individuals and those with a hearing impairment the opportunity to better understand what was reported in court. Other measures in the package passed today will:

  • Strengthen orders of protection by authorizing family courts to extend an order for victims who are afraid of recurring violence upon a showing of good cause, even if there has not been an actual recurrence of violence (A.6195-A);

  • Clarify the expiration date to indicate that the date of sentencing, not conviction, be used to determine the expiration date of an order of protection issued in relation to a family offense (A.8807-B); and

  • Provide that orders of protection can’t be denied solely on the basis that the alleged abuse was not simultaneous with the date of the application (A.8393-A).

To further help victims of domestic abuse, the Assembly passed a bill Assemblyman Lancman supported that would expose individuals or parties who fail to obey or enforce an order of protection to joint liability for all non-economic damages sought by a claimant, after a fact-finding by a judge or jury (A.5516). The measure re-enforces New York’s zero-tolerance policy about domestic violence.