This study assessed the effectiveness of North Carolina's Homicide Prevention Act in preventing intimate-partner firearm violence; the law prohibits persons subject to a qualifying domestic-violence protective order (DVPO) from owning or possessing any firearms or ammunition, and it requires them to surrender to the county sheriff within 24 hours any firearms, ammunition, and permits to purchase firearms.
Over one-third of the defendants in DVPO filings had access to firearms at the time of the filing, and over 25 percent of them had used firearms against the plaintiffs within 12 months of the filing. Less than half of the DVPO plaintiffs in the study reported being asked by the judge about defendants' access to firearms as part of the ex parte hearing; this proportion did not change after the enactment of the Homicide Prevention Act, even though it requires that "the court shall inquire of the plaintiff, at the ex parte or emergency hearing, the presence of, ownership of, or otherwise access to firearms by the defendant...;" however, after the legislation, judges were significantly more likely to check firearm-related conditions on the ex parte orders. The proportion of respondents who indicated that their partners kept their guns after the issuance of the DVPO did not change after the legislation. Study data were obtained from DVPO case files in the study county and a subset of eligible cases that contained longitudinal interview data collected as part of the Court Ordered Protection Evaluation (COPE) study. Data were also obtained from criminal record checks of all the defendants named in the ex parte DVPOs filed. The study obtained COPE interview and DVPO case file information for 221 eligible women who filed for DVPOs in a county adjacent to the county that was the focus of the study. 11 tables, 55 references and appended homicide prevention Act, DVPO forms, and a description of the COPE study
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