Local News

Lawmakers Introduce 6 Bills Targeting Domestic Violence

Posted February 1, 2007 6:53 a.m. EST

— State lawmakers Wednesday introduced six bills aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.

Among the proposed legislation, are measures that would increase the punishment for those who violate protective orders, keep guns out of their hands and improve security at shelters.

  • House Bill 42 and Senate Bill 32 calls for a statewide reporting system to keep track of domestic violence homicides.

  • House Bill 43 and Senate Bill 31 appropriate money for domestic violence programs and facilities.

  • House Bill 44 and Senate Bill 27 make it a felony for people who knowingly violate a domestic violence order more than once.

  • House Bill 45 and Senate Bill 30 make it easier for victims to change their names to keep violators from being able to locate them.

  • House Bill 46 and Senate Bill 29 create guidelines for security at state-funded domestic violence programs and shelters.

  • House Bill 47 and Senate Bill 28 make it a felony for anyone to violate a protective order with a deadly weapon.
Lawmakers also previously introduced Senate Bill 9, which prohibits someone who is named in a domestic violence protection order from buying a gun.

The bills were born out of the Joint Legislative Committee on Domestic Violence created during the short session in 2004. House Bill 1354 created the committee and passed a comprehensive set of domestic violence laws that brought North Carolina up to date with laws in other states.

“What we did 2 ½ years ago really brought us completely into the 21st century on our domestic violence laws,” Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said.

Ross who is co-sponsoring the bills in the House said it is now time to fine-tune the current domestic violence laws. She said a key element to doing so is appropriating money to help pay for programs and shelters in counties that have substandard facilities or none at all.

“We're looking at where our domestic violence funding, those dollars can have maximum impact,” Ross said.

People who advocate for domestic violence victims helped author the bills and say they will make a difference.

“I think the Legislature really does have a greater understanding that domestic violence is an important issue and that it should be taken seriously and that the victims, safety of victims and survivors is very important,” said Damita Chambers with Interact of Wake County, which provides support and services for victims of domestic violence.

Sen. Julia Boseman, D- New Hanover, has seen too many examples of domestic violence homicides in New Hanover County. She vividly recalls two deaths of University of North Carolina at Wilmington students. She said that the realization that domestic violence often leads to homicides is sinking in.

Last year, domestic violence groups say there were 78 homicides related to domestic violence; it is not an official number, but it is a number that is getting attention from lawmakers sponsoring these laws.

“I hope that we'll get a lot of support for it and we'll be pushing for it very hard this session,” Boseman said