Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Firearms and domestic violence are a fatal mixture

Post by Brian O'Neill on May 17, 2013 at 7:06 am with 13 Comments »
May 19, 2013 9:57 pm

Guns, guns, guns. It’s difficult to turn on the news or scan the headlines of the morning paper without coming across yet another tangential argument about guns in our society.

Well, here’s one more.

It starts out with a very welcome bit of news from a 2010 Department of Justice report which states that violent crime, on the decline for years, has reached a 40 year low. Good news for sure, even if experts cannot seem to agree on the reason.

But it’s not all good news. According to Kelly Star, a member of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), statistics on intimate partner homicides have remained steady, despite the falling numbers in the national homicide rate.

Star was interviewed on NBC’s Rock Center for a story about the correlation between gun ownership and domestic violence homicide. It was a stark reminder of the stakes in the country’s diverging discussion about firearms in society.

The topic is the confiscation of guns from alleged domestic abusers, and Star is quick to point out that domestic violence is most likely in the interim following the service of a protection order. If the abuser has access to firearms during that period, the domestic violence victim is five times as likely to die.

That is a chilling piece of information that, nevertheless, many choose to misunderstand. For those looking for a more simplistic explanation, consider this:


DV order + Gun = high probability of death

It does not take a math whiz to figure out that removing the gun from this equation will have an impact. Easier said than done, of course.

Though federal law already requires that individuals served with DV protections orders surrender their firearms, it should surprise no one that few do so voluntarily. On top of that, police departments rarely make a point of confiscating firearms.

Why? Blame the ever present fear of the two L’s: liability and litigation. Which brings us right back to the ponderous question of gun rights.

Gun rights advocates and the NRA (who refused to speak on the record to NBC) adamantly oppose the removal of firearms without due process. This is a disingenuous claim given the hefty percentage of alleged abusers who receive protection orders after being arrested for domestic violence crimes. In many cases, judges are often the ones handing down protection orders to the abusers facing them in court.

So where does one draw the line? Should domestic violence suspects, especially those who have crossed the legal threshold of arrest, have access to their guns? Does the 2nd Amendment trump a mountain of fatal statistics?

In the final segment of the show, an NBC reporter follows a San Mateo County Sheriff’s detective confiscating the firearms of alleged abusers. The officer, who is convinced this dangerous and controversial task (funded by a federal grant) saves lives, points out that in his jurisdiction there has not been a domestic violence homicide in over three years.

That is a compelling statistic.

Simple math already demonstrates that when abusers relinquish their guns, the body count drops. Conversely, it means that there are people out there who will be dead at some indeterminate date in the future because the 2nd Amendment rights of their abusers were held to be more important than the risk to the lives of their victims.

If everyone, including gun rights advocates, would acknowledge this, then perhaps the bleak statistics of domestic violence homicide would someday match the downward trend of violent crime.

It is something to hope for.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. musingintacoma says:

    It is sooo depressing to continually see stories in the news about this shooting or that shooting and how many were killed, etc. The USA has a such a fascination with firearms that it might warrant its’ own diagnosis in the DSM-IV.

    The ownership and use of firearms needs to be a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT, like driving. Unfortunately scrounging up the necessary states to pass an amendment to the Constitution is unlikely. How much more blood needs to be spilled before we as a society realize that the benefits of relatively unrestricted (compared to other industrialized nations;) individual firearms ownership are far outweighed by drawbacks?

    For all the 2nd amendment ardent supporters who will now vilify me, I can only say that sticks and stones may break my bones, but your rifles and pistols would surely kill me.

  2. thoughtful1 says:

    When the responsible dues-paying members of the NRA band together and pull their memberships en masse until the NRA stops whoring to the gun manufacturers–corporations protecting their profits–we will see sanity return to this debate. George H.W. Bush did exactly that. Too bad that the most vocal of the fans of the Second Amendment probably can’t even recite it. If the truth be known, their preoccupation with their big gun is really phallic.

  3. TheButlerDidIt says:

    I think “musingintacoma” and “thoughtful1″ are complete idiots and uneducated morons.

    There, prove me wrong.

    As a responsible firearms owner, myself and others get tired of the same over-the-top blanket insinuations of the anti-gun crowd that paints us with such broad strokes. Then they wonder why the 2nd amendment supporters come out with the knives, or why the NRA refuses to concede anything.

    We’re not all a bunch of red-necked hillbilles who collect firearms to compensate for our lack of male-size (insert your favorite derogatory quip here).

    Look, most of us firearms owners are just as concerned about the ABUSE of firearms in this country as anyone else.

    I think there is plenty of place for thoughful, restrained dialogue on issues like the one Brian raises above without the knives having to come out. Yes, I know some of the pro-gun crowd can do the same type name-calling, but it’s now become an automatic defense mechanism anytime a “gun” issue comes about, one can hardly blame them.

    Let’s get the conversation back to “certain segments of society shouldn’t have access to firearms,” without the broad blanket pronouncements, then maybe we can move forward in this society.

  4. musingintacoma says:

    TheButlerDidIt: My post was asking exactly what you stated in your last paragraph. The suspension of a RIGHT, however is much more difficult than a PRIVILEGE. Suspending a drunk driver’s license is much easier than confiscating the firearms of a person that has been served with a protection order (see Brian’s post above.) Because the confiscation involves the suspension of a citizen’s constitutional right, it is implied that they are to be allowed more due process than the suspension of a privilege. In some situations, to protect a life, actions need to be taken quickly, as Brian is stating above. Whose rights are more important in a DV situation? The victim or the abuser? Easy to guess where I stand.

    To be trite, with great power comes great responsibility. I am sure that most firearms owners are responsible. But the bar of responsibility for firearms owners must be set high because of the ability of the weapons to take lives while involving minimal risk to the wielder as compared to close combat weapons likes knives, batons or, with proper training, hands.

    Do we really want just any citizen to carry around the ability to end a life at a whim?

  5. musingintacoma says:

    To add further to my last post, to get changes in place that will allow society to deny firearms to those deemed not responsible enough (wide blanket here, I mean this to be not only convicted felons, mentally unhealthy individuals and the like, but also person who lack the necessary skills and ability to care for, store a and use a firearm responsibly;) you will likely need to suspend or modify the 2nd Amendment.

    Both the anti gun crowd and responsible gun owners want this. What the NRA and the more ardent gun owners fear, and I believe rightfully so, is that if the 2nd Amendment was repealed or modified to allow government to restrict or even ban firearms, the pendulum would swing to the opposite side and gun ownership would become very onerous if not impossible.

    What we need is a respectable leader who can earn the trust of all to reach the compromise needed and if need be, sell a constitutional amendment to the states. That leader, as of today, either does not exist or has not revealed him/herself yet.

  6. Silverbackterry says:

    “Both the anti gun crowd and responsible gun owners want this.”

    No, what YOU anti gun crowd want me to agree to what YOU want, and if I don’t then no gold star calling me a responsible gun owner.”

    ” and gun ownership would become very onerous if not impossible.”

    Let us consider suspending ALL ability to move freely about, have ‘stop’frisk’search I mean, it’s for the kids, we could stop one more shooting.

  7. sandblower says:

    TheButler…….is typical of most gun nuts who comment on these pages. They rail against gun safety legislation we put forth, but never put forth their own responsible gun safety legislation.
    The 2nd is not absolute.

  8. TheButlerDidIt says:

    Musing: some good thoughts. I don’t have a lot of answers, but I just wanted to get my point out there that blanket accusations about those that own firearms just closes the ranks.

    I think the NRA’s viewpoint is adding any more restrictions to gun control is tantamount to starting down the slippery slope to confiscation. And I can understand that point, even if I don’t totally support it.

    As you pointed out, certain obvious groups should not be able to own a firearm (felons, mentally unstable etc). As far as those not responsible enough to care for, store and use a firearm, that’s going to be pretty subjective and hard to enforce. But that is where the NRA does a very good job with their education programs. What we need is for the anti-gun crowd to realize that the NRA is not just some shill organization for the firearms industry and actually do some good work. Not that they are above criticism, but they are not the evil empire as some in the media and left will make them out to be.

    BTW, knives, batons and the like are every bit as lethal as a gun within 20 feet – m&p are trained in how to deal with those threats; and a gun is no gurantee as most people are not very good with their accuracy, even within 10 feet. But I get your point.

  9. TheButlerDidIt says:

    Sandblower: you totally missed my point. And you proved it at the same time.

    What’s more, more legislation is NOT going to solve the issues. There’s already enough laws on the books. Start off with enforcing the ones already in place.

    The News Tribune ran a good article a week ago about innovative policing techniques where certain gang neighborhoods were targeted for stepped-up policing. It’s showing results. Gang shootings are one of the biggest issues in the gun violence issue.

    It’s solutions like this are needed, not more laws that only offer feel good accomplishments.

    But after all, that probably wouldn’t interest you, because we’re all just a bunch of “gun nuts” who aren’t concerned except with our own phallic fantasies, right?

  10. What about ‘less lethal’ weapons in the home?
    The police carry lots of stuff on their belts
    and sometimes that serves the situation well.

  11. Silverbackterry says:

    Yep, and some people don’t have a spare tire, or have a fire ext at home.
    You should ALWAYS offer less than lethal in a situation that requires it, but you would be stupid not to react with less than lethal in a situation that needs it.

  12. smokey984 says:

    Speaking of gun control, here is the end result of disarming honest men and women: Blood on his hands, hatred in his eyes: 2.30 pm on a suburban high street, Islamic fanatics wielding meat cleavers butcher a British soldier… As we say here in the States: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” In this case, it was 14 minutes after the first 999 call. A lot can happen in 14 minutes. There is no substitute for an armed citizenry.)

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