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Guns and Divorce, a Dangerous Mix

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Divorce and domestic violence are all too common. Check with any police agency and you will find that a family out of control is one of the most volatile situations that a law enforcement officer ever has to deal with.

We are now in the middle of a controversy over the Second Amendment and issues involving gun control. In the meantime, our headlines are filled with the tragedy of murder and suicide too often involving couples contemplating or going through a divorce. It is an ugly mess.

I have had murders and suicides over the years in my divorce practice. I have seen many cases where guns in the marital home have been an issue. What should we do about weapons, including hand guns and rifles, in your home in the event of a divorce?

1. If it is an amicable divorce and there is no history of violence, the most important thing is to keep guns in a gun safe and under lock and key. The weapons should be disarmed and clearly out of the reach of children.

2. What if there is a history of threats or domestic violence? Get any weapons out of the house.

This can be done in several ways:

(1) Contact the local police where you live to see if they have the means of holding and storing guns during the divorce. Some local law enforcement will hold guns for you.

(2) Rent a storage unit and make sure that your spouse, who may be out of control, does not have access to it during the divorce. Put all weapons into the storage unit.

(3) Another option is to have all guns held by a relative in a safe and secure place.

(4) I have held guns and rifles in a secure place for clients who were in a nasty divorce. I do not recommend it, but it could be a fourth option. Attorneys will often hold items for clients.

If you are worried about threats or domestic violence, in addition to removing all weapons, make sure that someone knows about the history of abuse or threats in your marriage. Make sure that you have a safe haven and means of escape should matters escalate.

Be ready to call 911 in the event of an emergency. Too many marriages end with an eruption of violence. The last thing that you want to do is to have weapons become part of the mix with possible tragic consequences.

Think about these suggestions, and share your thoughts with me.