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story.lead_photo.caption Rep. Nicole Clowney (right) , D-Fayetteville, is shown asking questions during a House session at the capitol in Little Rock. Representatives, from left, Bruce Coleman and Steve Hollowell, listen in. ( John Sykes Jr.)

House Republicans on Tuesday sunk a measure that would have given local and state law enforcement authority to enforce federal gun laws on convicted domestic abusers.

The legislation, House Bill 1655 by Rep. Nicole Clowney, D-Fayetteville, was defeated 35-38, needing 51 votes for passage. Democrats, joined by about a dozen Republicans, voted for the measure, which came out of committee last week with little opposition.

The bill would mirror federal law in making it a state offense for someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to own a gun. Clowney said the Arkansas State Police cannot enforce that law other than to call federal authorities.

"A vote against this bill amounts to a vote to protect domestic abusers who are in violation of federal law," Clowney said in a text message after the failed vote.

On the House floor, however, several Republicans questioned whether Clowney's bill would have created a new pathway toward seizing guns.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

In the House Judiciary Committee last week, the only person who could be heard voting against the bill was Rep. Cindy Crawford, R-Fort Smith. She spoke against the bill on the House floor Tuesday, saying she feared HB1655 would set a "precedent for a misdemeanors taking away gun rights."

Four other committee members voted against the bill on the House floor.

One member, Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, said he had spoken with other lawmakers after the bill got out of committee and they raised additional concerns.

"What if you've got a vindictive spouse and they're using this as a way to get back at someone?" Smith said, further explaining that a spouse could make a claim of domestic abuse as a way to strip his partner of a weapon.

But Rep. Douglas House, R-North Little Rock, who voted for the bill Tuesday, said his colleagues raise a nearly identical scenario, but he still supported the bill because of an amendment added by Clowney.

That amendment would have created an avenue for people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions to have their records sealed and their gun rights restored. The state police testified in committee that because there is no state prohibition of gun possession by people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, there is no path for them to restore their federal gun rights.

"This bill is not intended to punish anyone for life," Clowney said.

Clowney said Tuesday she was unsure whether she would attempt to revive the bill this session.

In 2016, Arkansas ranked fourth in the nation in the homicide rate of female victims, according to a report by the Violence Policy Center. Most of those murders were committed by boyfriends or spouses using a gun, the report found.

A Section on 03/20/2019

Print Headline: Gun ban for domestic abusers fails


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    March 20, 2019 at 6:42 a.m.

    Yet another example of how idiotic the gun nut lobby and legislators can be. This should have been a no-brainer, but a few Republican legislators were afraid it would be the slippery slope to confiscate all guns in the state (paraphrasing their stupid argument). The "vindictive spouse" argument by Rep. Smith is just ... well, insane. Is that really what you're worried about instead of worrying about the safety of spouses by domestic abusers? You can see where the priorities are for some of these legislators and it's definitely not with the victims.

  • Knuckleball1
    March 20, 2019 at 8:45 a.m.

    IDIOTS, IDIOTS.... one of the most explosive situations that a police officer can walk into and do every day walking into a house that they have been to more than once because of Domestic Violence.

    The Crooks and Thieves don't care because they are Crooks and Thieves and don't care..

  • Libertarian
    March 20, 2019 at 8:46 a.m.

    Rep. Crawford is of course correct. If the crime is that serious, then convict the perpetrator of a felony. I believe felony assault would be the crime. But "domestic abuse" is a misdemeanor. Unless RBear believes voting rights should also be forfeited? Truth is, for the gun control crowd, any excuse is sufficient to strip gun rights. Spit on the side walk? Lose gun rights. Drive left of center? Lose gun rights. Speeding ticket? Lose gun rights.

  • limb
    March 20, 2019 at 8:58 a.m.

    They can’t try to comprehend the whole amendment. What lazy excuses for lazy people who seem to cheer on domestic violence. This affects children who see a gun drawn on their mom as a usual thing.
    They wonder where some youths get their violent ways...

  • Seitan
    March 20, 2019 at 9:36 a.m.

    Absurd. Oh,'s Arkansas...

  • GeneralMac
    March 20, 2019 at 9:44 a.m.

    I agree with Cindy Crawford (R-Fort Smith)

    No one should lose their RIGHT to gun ownership over a MISDEMEANOR.

    I worked with a guy in Minnesota who only owned a deer rifle and looked forward to deer hunting every year.

    He was married to a cheat who many times taunted him that she would find a way for him to lose the right to possess his deer rifle.

  • RobertBolt
    March 20, 2019 at 10:02 a.m.

    Arkansas has a one-party government that will do anything extremists want until we stop these crooks at the polls. We must vote out these guns-over-common-sense Republican grifters.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    March 20, 2019 at 10:04 a.m.

    So this is a bill to dis-arm cops?

  • LRCrookAtty
    March 20, 2019 at 10:11 a.m.

    Bolt..."Arkansas has a one-party government that will do anything extremists want until we stop these crooks at the polls."
    70s into 80s, we did this and got rid of the democrats. Then the Republicans began doing the same thing and became corrupt. It is not the party, it is the power.

  • RobertBolt
    March 20, 2019 at 10:25 a.m.

    If so, then we should at least vote to divide the power within the legislature or between the legislature and the governor, lrcrookatty.