All too often, guns and family violence are a deadly combination, so it was a big step forward last week when the Supreme Court ruled that convicted domestic abusers lose their right to own firearms, whether or not their crimes were premeditated.

The court ruled June 27 on a challenge to the Lautenberg Amendment, a 1996 federal law that bars those convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. After their respective convictions on domestic-violence charges, Stephen Voisine of Wytopitlock and William E. Armstrong III of New Vineyard each was found with guns during unrelated police investigations.

The two argued that the firearms ban didn’t apply to them, since they’d been convicted only of misdemeanors: crimes committed in the heat of passion that are considered to be less serious than felonies, which are intentional acts. But the high court rejected their argument and concluded that the federal prohibition applied to exactly the type of misdemeanor charges of which Voisine and Armstrong had been convicted.

Still at risk, though, is the safety of Maine victims whose abusers are awaiting trial. If a victim can show that the abuse involved a gun or that there’s a heightened risk of immediate violence, they can get a restraining order requiring the accused batterer to relinquish their guns.

However, defendants don’t have to turn over the designated weapons to law enforcement. Instead, they have the option of relinquishing their guns to a private individual – who could be a family member or friend. And no system is in place to check whether the guns have been surrendered.

To bring much-needed accountability to the system, legislators should change state domestic-violence laws to require defendants who have been ordered to surrender their guns to hand them over to police or licensed gun dealers. To cover the cost of the change, which has sunk similar proposals in previous years, a small fee could be charged to the accused, Nicole R. Bissonnette recommended in a 2012 Maine Law Review article.

Bissonnette also calls for creating a database of those subject to restraining orders. If a defendant in the database didn’t comply within 24 hours of a surrender order, the courts and law enforcement would be notified automatically. The costs for this program could be offset by fining defendants for noncompliance.

Domestic assaults are 12 times more likely to be fatal when firearms are involved, researchers have found, and a victim whose abuser has a gun is five times more likely to be killed. The ruling in Voisine, et al. v. United States recognized the obvious connection between firearms and domestic violence, but there’s still more work to be done in Augusta to ensure victim safety.