Federal law requires anyone served with an order of protection to give up their guns, but it's rarely enforced at the state level, leaving domestic violence victims in jeopardy.
One community in California, though, is using a federal grant to tackle the problem -- with promising results, as a report by NBC News' "Rock Center with Brian Williams" found.
San Mateo County Deputy Sheriff John Kovach and his partner head a team that tracks down and confiscates these weapons one by one. Last year, his department collected 324 firearms and for the third year didn't have a single gun-related domestic violence homicide. ...
When someone in his county takes out an order of protection, Kovach interviews them to find out what kind of guns the other party might have. Then he goes to the home to serve the order and take the weapons.
Sometimes the owner says they don't have the weapons any longer; sometimes they say they're at a relative's home, which means another stop for Kovach and his partner.
The sleuthing and legwork is worth it, he said.
"I've worked in a lot of different areas of law enforcement," Kovach said. "They are all satisfying, but nothing like this."
He noted that responding to a domestic violence incident is among the most perilous calls for a police officer. Getting guns out of the hands of those with restraining orders means other cops -- along with civilians -- are safe, he said.
Simple, isn't it? Simple, but effective. And, frankly, just the fact that the police are taking protection orders seriously probably helps a lot.
Yet, according to this, it's a law that's simply not enforced. Well, the minute you start talking about taking guns from anyone, you encounter a storm of protest. And there's never enough money to do everything, because no one wants to pay taxes.
But we do need to start taking protection orders seriously, and we do need to start taking domestic violence seriously. Get the guns away from these people and we'll have fewer tragedies. A man might still beat his wife, but he'll be less likely to kill her.
And that's why the ready availability of guns is so dangerous in general, too. If you get angry and swing a fist, or even a knife, that's one thing. But the mortality rate goes way up if you get angry and there's a gun right to hand. Guns were designed for killing people. That was the whole point, and they're very effective at it.