The new director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said he favors a state measure that would help police disarm domestic abusers. A bill to do just that failed this past session.
Nationally, in 2017, police officers were shot more often when responding to domestic violence calls than any other kind of incident.
That’s why a group of Georgia law enforcement professionals supported a bill this past session to remove guns from domestic abusers. Federal law already prevents convicted abusers and those facing protective orders from possessing guns, but state law enforcement officers don’t enforce federal law.
At a media event Wednesday, GBI director and former Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds voiced his support for such a measure.
“As a former uniformed beat officer myself, and certainly as a prosecutor prosecuting cases involving domestic violence, and now as the director of the GBI, anything we can do that makes officer’s lives safer, we need to do,” Reynolds said.
He said domestic violence calls are among the top most emotional circumstances officers are exposed to.
“If an individual has had a previous domestic violence situation, particularly a conviction, then I think there’s a very strong argument that that individual does not need to have a weapon,” Reynolds said.
He added that he doesn’t draft legislation and would want to confer with Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed him, about the issue. WABE has not yet received comment from the governor’s office.
The state bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary committee with unanimous support last year.
“Every single republican voted for it to come out,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jen Jordan, said.
The measure then caught the attention of some gun rights advocates, who rallied opposition against it.
“So you had this whole thing of ‘these Republicans are going to take your guns away and you’ve got to stop them.’ And I think that the pressure was significant,” Jordan said.
She said hearing from the GBI director on the issue gives her hope the measure may pass next session.
Clarification: This report has been updated to note the specific year that it was found police officers were shot more often when responding to domestic violence calls than any other kind of incident.