Lawmaker wants guns out of domestic violence abusers' hands - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmaker wants guns out of domestic violence abusers' hands

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State representative Bakari Sellers introduces bill aimed at domestic violence abusers. (Courtesy: South Carolina Legislature) State representative Bakari Sellers introduces bill aimed at domestic violence abusers. (Courtesy: South Carolina Legislature)
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SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Each year dozens of cardboard cut-outs stand on State House grounds in Columbia or during a ceremony in Spartanburg to represent someone killed because of domestic violence.

"Even when I would threaten to leave, you know he would get really angry," Traci Fant said.

Fant is a survivor of domestic violence, and says she's sharing her story of a seven-year abusive relationship in hopes of helping someone else.

"It was a cycle - me leaving, him leaving, him jumping on me, me retaliating against him," Fant said. "It wasn't until I was badly hurt that he was actually arrested. And he just had to go to a class. I just couldn't take it anymore and I couldn't allow my kids to keep seeing me go through it."

And now state representative Bakari Sellers, who represents the Bamberg area, is pushing a bill that would increase jail time for first-time offenders. The jail time would increase from 30 days to 180 days. The bill would also force abusers to turn in their guns, or allow restrictions for those convicted of domestic violence.

"Women are losing their lives due to domestic violence all across this state," Lynn Hawkins said.

Hawkins is the executive director with Safe Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition in Spartanburg.

"Very rarely do they ever get sentenced to 30 days on a first offense. Most of the time they're sentenced to a abuser's treatment program," Hawkins said.

She said taking guns out of the hands of abusers could help save lives.

"Sixty-seven to 69 percent of the women that are murdered in the state of South Carolina have been murdered with a handgun," Hawkins said.

She encourages those who are in abusive relationships to get help.

That's what Fant did, and she also started her own organization Think Twice, which mentors victims.

The bill is expected to be brought up again next week in a subcommittee. If you're in an abusive relationship there is help. You can contact the Safe Homes 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-5066.

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