Sunday, April 27, 2014
Victims of Domestic Abuse in Washington State Are Now Protected
Yesterday I attended a meeting of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in Tempe, Arizona. I was impressed with the dedication and passion of the women that were there, and was surprised at how savvy these moms and grandmothers were with social media. In fact, the meeting was almost entirely devoted to how we can be more effective with our use of social media. I have hope that all the emails, all the Facebook Likes and Shares, and all the Tweets to our elected representatives (who are supposed to represent all of us, not just the NRA) will eventually constitute "an immovable force," and some reasonable, sensible, Second-Amendment non-violating laws can be passed. The following article is encouraging because Washington state has enacted a new law that requires spouses under domestic abuse orders to surrender their guns. If every state had such a law, the lives of the 9 women who are killed with guns every week could be saved.
From the New York Times Editorial Board April 27, 2014
The National Rifle Association’s annual convention this weekend in Indianapolis is featuring the usual array of tens of thousands of gun customers and dealers marveling at the latest in deadly weapons adapted for civilian life from the battlefields of war. Outside the massive gathering, a contingent from a gun safety group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, planned to raise awareness about the gun crisis.
This group has gotten some encouraging news in recent weeks — a new law in Washington State that will require spouses under domestic abuse orders to surrender their guns to authorities. This is no small matter. Intimate partner homicides account for nearly half the women killed each year, and more than half of these women are murdered with guns, according to federal statistics.
The surprising twist in the enactment of the Washington law was that the N.R.A. traditionally has fought hard against such legislation as a violation of Second Amendment freedom — but not this time. The law was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last month after unanimous approval by the legislature once the gun lobby backed off from its standard tactic of political retaliation. “This is an election year, and no candidate wants to be portrayed as letting domestic abusers keep their guns,” said the Democratic sponsor, Representative Roger Goodman.
There is speculation that the gun lobby — if only because of the politics of the electoral season — wants to appear more sensitive to the views of women who, the opinion polls say, are strongly in favor of confiscating firearms from domestic abusers. One astonished lawmaker in Minnesota told The Huffington Post that an N.R.A. lobbyist sought only minor changes in a domestic violence gun bill that now has a chance of passage. “The N.R.A. has been really good to work with on this particular issue,” said Representative Dan Schoen, a Democrat. “It pains me to say, but they have been.”
The Moms Demand Action group is hoping other states where legislation is pending, including Louisiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, will also seek to disqualify spousal abusers from gun possession.
Only a few states have workable gun surrender laws, and existing federal laws intended to disarm spousal abusers have proved largely unenforceable. Research on the problem by The Times identified patterns of violence in which the issuance of orders of protection seemed to set off gun attacks on women. It is therefore important that laws require that firearms be surrendered when the restraining order is issued — “at the most volatile time in an abusive relationship,” noted Mr. Goodman.
The Washington law was sold as an issue of domestic violence, he stressed, not gun control. He added language the gun lobby sought, specifying that a court had to judge a restrained spouse to be a “credible threat” before gun confiscation could be ordered. That allowed pro-gun senators to favor the obvious — the need to protect abused spouses from firearms.
Though Moms Demand Action carefully avoided any trace of irony in complimenting the gun lobby for not resisting, nobody believes that the N.R.A. has been fundamentally transformed. In state legislatures elsewhere, it has been busy pushing to loosen laws on the wielding of guns in public, as well as opposing universal background checks on gun buyers. The Washington law and the gun lobby’s acquiescence in this case hardly constitute a full cure for the nation’s gun scourge.