New Gun Law Affects Police Some Officers May Lose Right to Carry Firearms

Article excerpt

Law enforcement agencies are searching for officers who have committed domestic violence offenses.

A new federal gun control law is forcing law enforcement agencies around the country to search for officers who may lose their right to carry firearms because they have committed domestic violence offenses.

The nation's basic gun control law, on the books since 1968, has always included an exception for weapons used by government personnel in their official duties. But congressional Republicans removed that exception when they rushed enactment of the domestic violence measure in September. President Bill Clinton's administration and the Republicans are wrangling over who should take responsibility for fixing it. Meanwhile, law enforcement chiefs from the smallest constabulary to the FBI are struggling with the possibility that an unknown, but potentially significant, number of officers may not be able to fulfill essential duties. The new law prohibits the possession of a firearm by anyone with a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. That typically means that the person was found guilty of using, or attempting to use, physical force on a spouse or a child. Because the official-use exception was taken out of the law in its final form, state and local law enforcement agencies around the country were advised by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms last month that any personnel who had committed such an offense should be disarmed immediately. Three deputy sheriffs from Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of the federal law, The Associated Press reported. The deputies, named as Doe 1, Doe 2 and Doe 3, had their guns confiscated and were reassigned to civilian duties after being involved in domestic violence incidents. …