Attorney General Barr Announces Creation of Working Group on Prosecuting Gun Crimes to Stop and Reduce Domestic Violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday announced the formation of a Domestic Violence Working Group aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers, using the tools of federal prosecution to stop and prevent domestic violence.

The group will operate under the auspices of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) and be comprised of nine U.S. Attorneys from across the country, and chaired by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

“Too often, domestic abusers start with threats and abuse, and end up committing extreme violence and even homicide, with devastating impact on families and the community around them,” said Attorney General Barr.

“I have directed this working group to examine this issue and determine the best way to use federal gun prosecutions and other appropriate tools to supplement state, local and tribal efforts to address domestic violence.”

“Every day, at least three women in the United States are murdered by their husband or boyfriend,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady.

“With domestic violence being the leading cause of injury to women, this working group will bring federal resources to a nationwide problem.”

Federal law has long barred convicted felons, as well as individuals subject to certain domestic violence protective orders or convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, from possessing firearms.

Offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a remarkably high risk of committing a homicide. Research shows that abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners than abusers who don’t have that same access to a firearm. And according to one recent study, more than half of America’s mass shootings are cases of extreme domestic violence.

Keeping guns from domestic abusers legally prohibited from possessing them would significantly reduce violence in America, a major priority of the Justice Department.

However, federal gun cases involving domestic violence present unique challenges. In some states, the federal and state definitions of domestic violence differ, requiring complex legal analysis that varies based on the location of the conviction.

U.S. Attorneys’ offices have worked tirelessly over the years to address these legal challenges with tremendous success. The Working Group will share best practices, legal analysis, and guidance on prosecuting abusers who unlawfully possess guns, and will advise U.S. Attorneys across the country on outreach to local law enforcement, judges, and nonprofit groups.

Working Group members include:

  • Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  • Nicola T. Hanna, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
  • Justin E. Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio
  • Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas
  • Christina E. Nolan, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont
  • Byung J. Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia
  • R. Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma
  • Timothy J. Downing, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma

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