Domestic violence abusers would not be allowed to have guns if a bill that state senators are considering becomes law.
Victims advocate Laura Hudson endorsed the proposal Wednesday, telling senators the penalties are greater for hunting out of season than for domestic abuse.
“We take their weapon. We take their vehicle. We take their license to hunt,” Hudson said of illegal hunters. “And that doesn’t even up in my mind, about how we treat people who are harming women or women that are shooting men.”
Hudson said abusers who threaten someone with a gun have demonstrated they cannot use a weapon properly and should lose their right to have it.
Abusers convicted of criminal domestic violence would lose their right to possess a firearm or ammunition or carry a concealed weapon if the proposal, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, becomes law.
That ban would expire 10 years after an offender has completed his or her sentence. The offender then would be eligible to own a gun again.
That provision gives the bill a greater chance to pass the Legislature, where some members fear being accused of encroaching on 2nd Amendment rights, Hudson said.
The specifics of how convicted abusers would dispose of their weapons are not laid out in the bill but could be worked out in an amendment, said state Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry, a former prosecutor.
After 10 years, offenders could have a weapon again, but that does not mean they would get their original guns back if they had been sold or relinquished to law enforcement, Hembree said.
“I don’t want to create this ... totally unreasonable burden for law enforcement,” he said. Evidence rooms already are crammed, and it would be expensive and pose a liability for law enforcement agencies to store guns for 10 years.
Christan Rainey, executive director of Real Men Against Domestic Violence, also addressed senators, supporting the firearms ban.
Rainey, the keynote speaker at an October State House ceremony honoring S.C. victims, told the senators about his experience with domestic violence — his mother and four siblings were shot to death by her husband in North Charleston in 2006.
“I lost everything that I had in one day,” he said.