City exploring harsher bond conditions for family violence or weapons charges

San Antonio looking into 5 ideas when considering new gun safety measures

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - It's an idea in the beginning stages, but if it becomes a reality, San Antonio will have stronger bond conditions for people facing family violence or weapons charges.

That is one of five ideas the city of San Antonio is looking into when considering new gun safety measures.

Several ideas came out of a public safety committee meeting in response to recent mass shootings and Bexar County's domestic violence problem. One of those ideas relates directly to domestic abuse.

A huge issue in the attempt to end domestic violence is low victim reporting. When victims do report, they're putting their lives in danger, knowing their abuser could bond out and retaliate. 

"Extra time can save lives. So many of our victims are in a situation where they are fleeing violence and minutes can matter," said Lisa Cunningham-Ginn, executive director of the Bexar County Family Justice Center.

Cunningham-Ginn is glad the city is considering stronger bond conditions for people with family violence or weapons charges. 

The proposal is new for San Antonio, but it's been done recently in other areas of Texas. Late last year, McLennan County state district judges agreed on guidelines for higher bonds.

The following guidelines are not mandated but recommended:

  • For a third-degree felony charge, increasing the bond from $15,000 to $25,000.

  • For a second-degree felony, increasing the bond from $35,000 to $40,000.

  • For a first-degree felony, increasing the bond to as much as $75,000.

San Antonio's broad proposal doesn't list specifics, but District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval gave one possible example.

"The conditions of their bond could be that they wouldn't be allowed to have a gun on them," Sandoval said.

Right now, it's an idea still in the works, but Cunningham-Ginn hopes it will one day come to fruition.

"We know having a gun in a home increases the risk of homicide in a domestic violence situation by 500 percent. We all know that so many mass shootings are tied somehow to domestic and family violence," Cunningham-Ginn said.

Some council members, including Sandoval, have directed staff members to come back with more specific proposals along the same lines. Those details are expected by late August. 

Other ideas proposed by the city staff members include zoning for "gun free areas," creating a city gun safety policy and offering incentives to companies that follow those policies.

The only council member to oppose the ideas is District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse. He explains why in the following statement: 

"City hall needs to learn its place. We need to go after enforcing the laws on the books to hold the criminals and knuckleheads with illegal guns accountable. The 5 ideas we spoke about, don't address the criminals who obtained their guns illegally."

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