Texas officials plan to store guns of 'abusers' at private gun range

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A Texas county could become the first jurisdiction in the nation to use a private gun range to store weapons confiscated from accused domestic abusers who are under protective orders barring possession of firearms.

Dallas County officials have been seeking such a storage facility since announcing plans earlier this month to step up enforcement of gun confiscation laws in domestic abuse cases.

Those laws allow judges who have issued a protective order in domestic abuse cases to confiscate the guns of the accused while the order is pending, but the Dallas Morning News reports that those laws are being ignored. Federal law also prohibits convicted domestic abusers from possessing guns.

The Dallas paper reported Thursday that as part of the effort to implement the gun confiscation program in Dallas County, a private gun range near Love Field in Dallas has agreed to participate. Normally the guns would be stored in a police property room, but Dallas police had concerns about lack of space and whether they had the authority to confiscate the weapons, the newspaper said.

“Imagine how much better victims would sleep at night knowing all the guns had been removed,” Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter, told the Dallas Morning News. “I think it will save lives. I really do.”

Other jurisdictions with gun confiscation efforts similar to what Dallas is implementing include Danvers, a tiny town in Massachusetts that sends guns confiscated in domestic violence cases to a private facility but only if the police property office has run out of room. Law enforcement agencies in Austin and San Antonio have their own storage for guns removed in domestic abuse cases.

“I couldn’t find another jurisdiction across the country that said, ‘We looked at the issue and we thought it was better not to go with the private entity,’ or ‘We felt as a safety issue you couldn’t go with a private entity,’” Dallas County criminal court Judge Roberto Cañas told the Dallas Morning News.

The owner of the Love Field gun range would charge owners a one-time fee -- probably no more than $50 -- to get their guns back after a protective order expires. The owner would also be allowed to resell the guns or sell them for scrap, if the owner never returns for them.