Study: Dallas County gun confiscation program from domestic violence offenders falls short

A Dallas County program designed to confiscate guns from domestic violence offenders has been in place for two years. But a new study from law students at SMU says the program is falling short of what it's meant to do.

Sara Horton's family has been forever changed since January 2013. Her daughter, Karen Smith, was gunned down by her estranged husband Ferdinand Smith while she was walking to her car leaving work at UT Southwestern.

“Mothers, you second guess yourself. I should've called, I should've done something. I should've done this, I should've done that,” Horton said.

Ferdinand Smith had a history of abusing his wife since 1999. She had a protective order against him and he was about to be arrested again for choking her just weeks before her murder. But he still had a gun.

“He had no business having a gun. But he could've legally bought a gun,” Horton said.

Ferdinand Smith is currently serving a 50-year sentence for Karen Smith's murder.

Though she'll never know if anything could've saved Karen, Horton and her family have become advocates for more programs to keep domestic violence abusers accountable -- like Dallas County's gun surrender program to keep abusers from having guns.

But the program hasn't been as effective according to a report from SMU law students - only collecting 60 guns out of thousands of Dallas county domestic violence cases - and state grant money for the program will run out this year.

“We understand the funding is limited, we understand the funding is about to cease come August 1, so we need to educate the people of Dallas County how important this program is,” said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.

SMU law students and professors behind the report say judges, the district attorney and law enforcement need to work together to confiscate guns from abusers.

Part of it is the judges not knowing, part of it is the judges needing training both about domestic violence and about firearms,” said Asst. SMU Law Professor Natalie Nanasi. “Giving them information about this program, about why it's so important and how they can access it , how they can refer offenders to the program is critical to its survival.”

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