Advocates for domestic violence victims have long called for stricter laws governing firearms and protective orders. Their argument is rooted in a grim statistic: when women die at the hand of an intimate partner, that hand is more often than not holding a gun. In these most volatile of human dramas, they contend, the right to bear arms must give ground to the need to protect a woman’s life. In statehouses across the country, though, the N.R.A. and other gun-rights groups have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations. They argue that gun ownership, as a fundamental constitutional right, should not be stripped away for anything less serious than a felony conviction — and certainly not, as an N.R.A. lobbyist in Washington State put it to legislators, for the “mere issuance of court orders.”
No reasonable person would wish what befell Stephanie Holten on anyone. Fearing for her safety and the safety of her children from her ex-husband, Ms. Holten filed for an order of protection from her ex-. In several states, an order of protection would require the subject of the order to turn over their firearms to police…but not in Washington State. As you might imagine, Mr. Holten walked right through that restraining order. Thanks to some quick thinking on her part, Ms. Holten dialed 911 on her cell phone and hid it under a blanket on her couch. The 911 dispatcher listened to Ms. Holten begging her ex-husband for her life. This story, thankfully, comes with a happy ending. The police arrived before Mr. Holten was able to kill his ex-wife and Ms. Holten survived to tell the tale.
You might be wondering why someone who’s been ordered by a court to stay at least two blocks away from his ex- would be allowed to retain his firearms. It should surprise no one that the National Rifle Association has actively lobbied states to create a legal environment that can only be described as Guns uber Alles. In Washington State, police cannot take firearms from someone served with an order of protection. Not surprisingly, many men walk right through that piece of paper, with often deadly. Though they will deny this from now until Christmas, the results speak for themselves. The NRA and too many state legislatures value gun rights over the safety and even the life of women. Then again, when far too many Conservative politicians considers women to essentially be the property of men, I suppose this is the best one could reasonably expect. After all, the NRA buys politicians from both sides of the political divide.
This leaves me with just one question: How many women will have to die at the hands of armed and angry ex’s before those in positions of power wake up and decide it’s time to do something?