State attorney aims to disarm abusers

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Every other day, a person here in Florida is killed in a domestic violence incident, and most of the time, guns are involved. 

Now the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office is taking action to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, by aggressively and consistently enforcing laws already on the books.

She was a 22-year-old mom with a baby on the way. On October 2, 2013, Brianna Anderson was shot and killed inside her Tampa home in-front of her toddler son.

"I heard something, it sounded like a firecracker sound, it was like muffled," neighbor Maurice Harris said in 2013.

The trigger-puller was Anderson’s boyfriend, and father of her children, Jamar Silas.  A convicted felon, who should never have had access to a gun.

It's that deadly combination the Hillsborough County State Attorney is committed to stopping.

"Nationally, more domestic violence homicides occur using firearms than all other methods combined,” said Andrew Warren. “The mere presence of a firearm in an abusive relationship intensifies a victim's fears and escalates violent incidents, increasing the risk of homicide by more than 500 percent."

By law, those abusers aren't supposed to have guns. They legally forfeit their right when they're convicted of domestic violence, found guilty of a felony, or have a domestic violence restraining order against them. 

However, Warren says the rules aren’t always followed.

"It's about time we started aggressively and consistently enforcing those laws, and that's exactly what we're going to do," he said.

The initiative starts with law enforcement. When they're called to a domestic violence incident, officers will do a risk assessment to try and figure out the person's access to firearms.

Then it's turned over to prosecutors.

"State Attorney Office will then conduct background checks, check for any pending domestic violence injunctions,” said Warren. “That way when the legal process begins we can use the legal process to relinquish that firearm."

Warren says continuing to allow these abusers to have guns puts the entire community in danger.

Local domestic violence victim organizations tell FOX 13 News they're hopeful this initiative will save lives.