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Dallas County Plans To Confiscate Guns From Abusers

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Family violence left unchecked can and often does escalate—sometimes leading to deadly consequences. So, even the simplest of emotional math says adding weapons to anger is not a good idea.

“Some people get mad and they don’t know how to control their anger,” says Dalton Cross, “and that’s how people end up getting hurt.”

Dalton Cross knows of what he speaks. He spent much of today sitting on a hard bench outside of Judge Roberto Canas’ misdemeanor family violence court at the Crowley courthouse. Although he has been accused of a misdemeanor family violence incident involving his girlfriend, he wants the trouble to end here. And so does Judge Canas.

“A friend calls what we do here in the misdemeanor court ‘homicide prevention’,” says Judge Canas, “and it is in a lot of ways.”

That’s because Canas sees the importance of minimizing opportunities for domestic disputes to violate. This week, he secured the support of Dallas County Commissioners to move forward with a program to help get firearms out of the hands of accused abusers or anyone bound by a protective order. Although federal and state laws are already in place that prohibit abusers from having weapons, Judge Canas says there was no way to monitor compliance.

“We would always tell them ‘you cannot possess a firearm’. But, there was never a procedure to back that up.”

Now, a local gun range has agreed to secure and store the weapons. A grant from the Governor’s office will help pay the salary of a part time sheriff’s deputy who will act as a liaison with the courts and help provide follow up.

“[If] they are willing to comply with the law, they give us their firearm, when they’re in a heated situation, they won’t have that gun to turn to, to escalate the situation,” says Judge Canas.

Although the program will initially rely on voluntary cooperation, Judge Canas points to statistics that speak to the danger of weapons in volatile homes and hopes that victims will report them.

“Statistics show that women who are in an abusive household are 300 times more likely to have that gun used against them,” says Judge Canas.

“It may be one of those things where you never know how many incidents you prevent down the line. But, I can’t believe in my heart that this is not going to help and provide some sense of security for victims.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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