Yesterday, the SC legislature passed a long-overdue Criminal Domestic Violence bill in an effort to bring much-needed reform to a state with one of the worst records on domestic abuse. One of the chief debates over this legislation was the proposed gun ban for DV offenders. Second amendment advocates argued that there are already laws on the books in this regard. Indeed, federal law imposes a lifetime ban on gun ownership in certain cases of domestic violence. However, many argue that the federal ban is not very strict and is not often enforced. Ultimately, the bill that passed did include a gun ban. The new state ban would impose a lifetime ban for only the highest charge (DV of a High & Aggravated Nature). Below that, at the judge’s discretion, a 10-year ban may be imposed on the next level of offense (1st degree), and a 3-year one on the lowest level DV offences (2nd and 3rd degree).
1st Degree charges can be sought if the person was seriously injured in the incident, as in nearly died or was permanently disabled, or if the attacker has 2 or more previous convictions.
2nd degree can be sought if the victim’s injuries were “moderate,” which generally means more than scratches and bruises, or if the attacker has 1 or more previous convictions. 3rd degree is generally for first time offenders where the physical injury were not very severe.
In all cases, the degree can bumped up if the victim was pregnant or a child witnessed the incident, if the attacker is violating a previous protection order, if choking was involved, or if the attacker forcibly prevented the victim from calling police or ambulance.
DV of H&A nature, the highest DV charge, requires the additional criteria of “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” This may include using a deadly weapon as well as any of the above (pregnant, in front of child, choking, prevents calling for help).
What do you think? Is this legislation a good start? Or did this bill not go far enough?