Louisiana Tries To Protect Domestic Abuse Victims But The NRA Says ‘No.’

If you buy a gun from a federally-licensed dealer, Question 11h asks: “Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner?” And if you answer ‘yes,’ or the FBI determines that you should have answered in the affirmative, you ain’t getting the gun. The problem with this question, however, is that there loopholes in this law big enough to drive the veritable truck.

domestic             First, walking into a court and getting a restraining order isn’t the same thing as buying the annual dog license.  It can be a long, drawn-out process, it may only be a temporary order and believe it or not, not every state requires that the person served with the order surrender their guns. And then there’s a problem with the wording of the Question 11f itself, because if you check the fine print on the NICS-FBI form, you’ll discover that an ‘intimate partner’ is defined as a spouse or a former spouse, or someone who cohabitates or has cohabitated with the individual who took out the restraining order in the first place. [My italics.] Which means that if someone finds themselves in an abusive relationship with someone with whom they do not share living space, the prohibition on gun ownership doesn’t hold.

This gap in the law is being challenged today in of all places, Louisiana, which happens to be a particularly gun-friendly state. But a member of the Louisiana House, Helena Moreno, whose district is just south of New Orleans, has a bill which cleared committee by a near-unanimous vote, and expands the definition of domestic abuser to persons involved in dating relationships, which happens to account for 70% of domestic homicides in the state.

The bill comes up for a floor vote today and of course our friends down in Fairfax oppose it. After all, if you widen the definition of a domestic relationship to go beyond people who live together, then you are going “well beyond federal law in limiting Second Amendment rights.” Notice incidentally, that any attempt to keep people away from guns who shouldn’t have a gun is always a ‘limit’ on 2nd-Amendment rights. And pardon me for a brief editorial, but I’m really sick and tired of listening to all my GVP friends who tell me they want more gun regulations but support 2nd-amendment ‘rights.’  Enough with the 2nd Amendment, okay?

But before everyone in Gun-sense Nation starts celebrating the attempt by Louisiana to protect domestic abuse victims, it should be noted that Gun-nut Nation has been working overtime to push the legal needle in the other direction. States are also passing laws which allow domestic abuse victims to carry a gun if they are legal gun owners, whether or not they have a concealed-carry (CCW) license. A new law in Virginia approves this practice as long as a CCW application is in the works. A similar law has been introduced in Indiana, which gives the victim a temporary, 60-day period to carry a concealed weapon either from the day they obtain their court order or the day they apply for a CCW.  And the same legislation has just been signed into law in Illinois.

I’m not saying that protecting domestic abuse victims shouldn’t be the highest priority of the police and the courts. But the idea that someone who owns a gun could imagine that the presence of a firearm would give them a higher degree of protection simply promotes the utterly false narrative that guns should be the first line of defense against any and all threats.

I notice that our friends at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence publish a monthly report detailing the status of state-level gun laws. Maybe they would consider stealing a page from the NRA and coding onto their website an automated messaging system so that residents in a state with an upcoming gun vote could let the legislators know how they feel. I’ll put up $500 to help pay for that deal. Any takers?

 

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A New NRA Program On Domestic Abuse Actually Increases The Chances Of Being Abused.

In their endless and uncompromising quest to make sure that all Americans understand the risks of gun ownership (read: there are no risks,) the NRA has just announced a partnership with the gun blog Bearing Arms, to help celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month which takes place every October and even rates a Presidential Proclamation issued by the guy who has finally been granted American citizenship by Donald Trump.

domestic            THE NRA has been tirelessly promoting gun sales to women ever since they discovered that most of the guns that were scooped up since the Kenyan entered the White House were bought by the same old, white men.  And the problem with the white-man market is that as a percentage of people living in the United States, it’s not getting any larger, which means that at a certain point gun sales will begin to lag. In fact, the most recent survey on how many Americans actually own guns revealed that less than one-quarter of U.S. adults are gun owners, which means that Gun-nut Nation’s ‘chicken in every pot’ dream of a gun in every home just isn’t coming true.

Of course the new collaboration between the NRA and Bearing Arms isn’t what people think about when the issue of domestic violence is raised.  For most of us, advocating against domestic violence means making treatment options for abused persons more available, streamlining the process for seeking legal protection against abuse, and toughening sanctions against abusers who are charged and convicted of engaging in a domestic assault.

Last year and the year before that and the year before that, women constituted 20% of all homicide victims of whom roughly half were murdered with guns. Most killings where a gun was used grow out of domestic disputes, and many result in the injuring or killing of other family members as well.  Some states make it relatively easy to disarm people involved in domestics, other states make it more difficult, and still other states have disarming laws and procedures that are so complex and so vague that usually nothing is done at all.

But if there is one consistent area when it comes to domestic abuse and guns, it has been the NRA’s opposition to disarming people involved in such affairs.  On occasion, the NRA has quietly supported legislation that disarms persons accused or convicted of domestic abuse, but generally speaking, until a guy is actually convicted of beating up his wife or girlfriend, and even in some instances after being convicted, he can still hold onto his guns or petition the Court to get them returned.  In some states, the same Judge who issues an Order of Protection has no legal basis for issuing an order that would remove guns from the possession of the person who was told to stay away from his wife.  Which means that if the guy decides to violate the Order, he can show up on her doorstep with a gun.

The NRA and Bearing Arms calls this an effort to strengthen one’s ‘personal protection plan,’ and it involves getting shooting ranges to offer training discounts to individuals who are holding an ‘active’ order of protection, which means, of course, that abuse victims also have to own a gun.  The new NRA-Bearing Arms program is a cynical attempt to pretend that the best response to domestic violence is for an abused spouse or girlfriend to respond with violence as well.

 I am not arguing that anyone facing the threat of physical abuse should necessarily rule out any effective response, even if that response increases risk.  But if a victim of domestic abuse decides to arm themselves, they should be aware that there is no credible study which shows that access to a gun is either effective or safe; to the contrary, the odds they will hurt themselves or some other unintended person is a more probable outcome if they have access to a gun. And that’s not something that Gun-nut Nation will ever understand.

 

To reach an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline call: 1-800-799-SAFE

Website for information and to access chat services: www.thehotline.org and www.loveisrespect.org (the latter is for youth)

Youth can text Loveisrespect services by texting “love is” to 22522

 

It’s A Win-Win When The NRA Backs Laws Against Domestic Abuse

While the NRA continues to fiddle away with its good guys with guns tune, they seem to have missed the boat from the perspective of gender.  The truth is that women are 15% of all gun homicide victims each year, and they are overwhelmingly shot during domestic disputes.  And what the NRA has not been able explain is how all these good guys will protect us from the bad guys when the bad guy happens to be a husband, or an ex-husband, or an angry boyfriend who gets into an argument with his wife or girlfriend and then pulls out a gun.

Until recently, the NRA and its allies usually resisted efforts to tighten laws that made it easier to take guns away from people (overwhelmingly males) who were engaged in domestic disputes, arguing sometimes with good reason that the issuance of a domestic restraining order often had little or nothing to do with whether the guy receiving the order was a danger or not.  Giving the cops wide latitude to make such a determination and arbitrarily seize someone’s guns was not only a violation of the 2nd Amendment, but also ran contrary to Constitutional guarantees protecting us from unlawful search and seizure and due process.

pink gunBut the tide seems to be turning and the NRA in a slow and deliberate way is beginning to show signs that resisting any efforts to mandate government controls over firearms might not be such a good thing.  Working largely the scenes, the NRA quietly helped sponsors in Washington State to change a law that now allows for confiscation of guns if someone is charged with a domestic abuse misdemeanor, whereas previously the NRA only consented to such actions of an individual was charged with a felony.  The NRA is also backing similar laws in at least three other states and seems to be taking its cues from a recent Supreme Court decision that resulted in someone losing his guns because he was convicted of domestic abuse in Tennessee, even though the state’s definition of abuse was not as clear as the federal definition which had previously been applied to instances where abusers lost their guns.

There’s some thought out there that the NRA is modifying its stance on this issue as part of its recent campaign to get women more interesting in buying and owning guns.  But even if this is true, it doesn’t change the fact that gun owners may find themselves supporting an organization which has belligerently campaigned against any changes in gun control laws at all.  And from a symbolic point of view, the biggest change may be shortly coming in Texas, whose recent image as a gun-loving state has been tarnished by the antics of some gun-toting dopes who “invaded” some retail chains openly displaying their AR-15’s.

Texas has a statute that bans domestic abusers from keeping guns, but the law is rarely enforced, which basically means that there’s no law at all.  Recently a Dallas judge who handles domestic cases appointed himself to head an initiative that will oversee and more strongly enforce the gun ban.  The judge, Roberto Cañas, has already taken steps to strengthen the law’s enforcement, including getting other judges on board with the plan and convening a meeting of all county judges who deal with domestics to chart a new course.  A state Representative, Rafael Anchia, has announced plans to introduce new legislation on this issue in next year’s legislative session.

Legislation or procedures that deprive anyone of their access to guns has to be crafted carefully.  But the NRA could take a giant leap forward if they used their devotion to family as a rationale for openly supporting limiting gun access in cases of domestic abuse.  They would make a lot more friends among female voters by coming out of the shadows on this issue rather than letting vendors into the annual show who sell pink holsters and brassieres.  It may be difficult for the NRA to convince some of the members that backing government gun controls is sometimes more right than wrong, but leadership, even leadership of a gun-rights organization, always demands some risks.