A St. Joseph police officer who was arrested on a domestic assault charge would lose his gun rights as a private citizen if convicted, though might still be able to carry while on duty.
According to gun rights attorney Kevin Jamison, any person convicted of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence loses their gun rights for life. However, some departments still let officers carry on duty.
“Some departments have said that it doesn’t apply when they’re on duty,” Jamison said. “They check a firearm out to them when they start their shift and check it back in afterward.”
However, Jamison said he’s not sure that approach is legal.
“I think it’s questionable.
I don’t see that exception in the law,” he said.
Officer Ron T. Strader also could have his private firearm rights taken away by a protective order or as a condition of bond. Unlike a “red flag” law, Jamison said a hearing would have to take place in either case.
Court records don’t indicate a protective order against Strader. As for conditions of bond, Strader isn’t prohibited from having firearms, but is prohibited from contacting the victim or any witnesses.
Jamison said that even if Strader pleads guilty to a different charge, the federal government can look into the nature of the charge to determine if it was domestic violence when conducting a gun-related background check.
According to a probable cause statement, St. Joseph Police Sgt. Jason Strong said, “The victim was dragged by the defendant, causing visible injuries to the victim’s nose, knees and elbows.”
The victim isn’t named in court documents, though documents do indicate that Strader and the victim lived together.
In the probable cause statement, Strong said this isn’t the first domestic incident involving Strader.
“According to witness and victim statements, several prior domestic disturbances have occurred between the involved parties.”
In a statement to News-Press NOW, St. Joseph Police Capt. Jeff Wilson said Strader has never been disciplined for domestic violence in the past.
“Officer Strader has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of the criminal process and the internal investigation,” Wilson said. “That status is with pay.”
Wilson did not respond Tuesday to a request from News-Press that asked if any of the previous domestic disturbances described in the probable cause statement were reported to police.
“Our department is committed to holding our personnel to a very high standard,” Wilson said. “This matter will be addressed in accordance.”
Strader is next due in Buchanan County court today at 8:15 a.m. for an arraignment.