As local leaders try to combat domestic violence in North Texas -- and in particular, cases that end in murder -- a new ally has emerged in the fight.
Wednesday, The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas announced a new initiative that aims to keep guns out of domestic abusers' hands.
"We cannot and should not stand by with so many domestic disputes going from bruises to bullets and bloodshed," said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.
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Federal law prohibits any person convicted of any domestic violence offense (felony or misdemeanor) from owning or possessing a firearm.
During a news conference, Cox pledged that her office will make a concerted effort to file federal charges against and prosecute any offenders who do not comply with the law.
Each count carries with it a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison.
"It makes perfect sense," said Cox. "Abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners than abusers who have no access to a gun. And that means the mere presence of a gun raises the risk of homicide by over 500 percent."
In Dallas County alone, an average of 15 people are killed each year in domestic violence episodes. The majority of those deaths involve guns.
With the added threat of federal prison time, Cox hopes the initiative will serve as an incentive for offenders to give up their guns willingly and obey the laws.
"We do have some tools to help," said Cox. "So we decided that we could bring our whole office and the resources of this office to bear and assist in this fight."
As part of the rollout, Cox announced federal indictments against three offenders who were recently caught with guns.
"You'll be seeing more indictments coming from my office in the days and months to come," said Cox. "And we're also looking at other ways we can be helpful."
Cox was joined Wednesday by Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, as well as domestic violence victims advocates from the Genesis Women's Shelter and SMU.