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Who Elected the NRA? You?by Daniel Johnson, Deputy Executive Editor
American culture does not give women much more protection or respect than the Taliban.
(CALGARY, Alberta) - Last year, Stephanie Holten in Spokane went to court to obtain a temporary order for protection from her ex-husband Corey Holten. Holten had threatened to kill her if her new boyfriend “gets near my kids.” In neat block letters she wrote on the form: “He owns guns, I am scared.”
The judge prohibited him from going within two blocks of her house. What the judge did not do was require him to do was surrender his guns. Twelve hours later he was outside her home and when she arrived with her two small children, he stepped out of his car and, brandishing a semi-automatic rifle, ordered her into the house where, he said, he was going to kill her. Going in, she managed to activate 911 on her cellphone and slip it under a blanket on the couch. The dispatcher heard her pleading for her life and managed to direct the police to the house where Mr. Holten subsequently surrendered.
How reasonable is it to suggest that the right to bear arms must yield to the right to life? (Second Amendment trumps the Constitution itself!)
This story appeared recently in the New York Times; here are three comments to the story:
John from Sacramento wrote:
So you suggest that a constitutional right be stripped on the basis of merely an accusation and request to the court? Remember, all it takes to get a restraining order is accusing someone and asking the court. There is no trial, no due process, none of those protections we firmly believe in. It's also grossly naive to think that someone who is murderous will "surrender their weapons" voluntarily.
Wanda from Somerset wrote:
In Kentucky game wardens can take guns away from someone caught poaching or shooting across the roadway. But those are turkeys, not women. This year already, a man bought a gun and within hours, during the transfer of children from the mother for a visit, he gunned down his wife, her uncle, and her 12-year-old cousin as they sat in the car--on a community college campus--waiting. But please, let's not pass laws, because killers won't obey them. Someone who should have had better sense said he would likely have killed her anyway, but there was no waiting period, no word to her that he was trying to purchase a gun. She was afraid of him and took others with her, but it didn't do any good. Are we really this helpless?
and Jonathan from NYC
The problem with these orders is that they do not come from a trial, no evidence is presented, and they are not adversarial proceedings. You can allege anything against anyone, and you will get an order. The person against whom the allegations are made has no chance to state his side of the case. The judges simply do not view these orders as a punishment for which due process of law is required. Such orders may very well be necessary in an emergency, but they should not be used as a basis of depriving anyone of his civil rights.
(John’s comment garnered 63 recommends; Wanda, 704 recommends and Jonathan’s 44; You can read the full story and 1,138 comments here )
Clearly the gun holder’s “civil rights” in such cases are more important than the right to life of the victim whose life can be snuffed out in a moment. Across the country, the NRA and other gun-rights groups have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations.
Barbara Dye obtained an emergency order of protection in July 2010, on the same day she filed for divorce from her husband, Raymond Dye, a firefighter. Ms. Dye, who worked as a personal trainer at a gym the couple owned, explained in her petition that since telling her husband she wanted a divorce because of his infidelity, he had repeatedly threatened to kill her. She wrote that she feared he would “have a violent reaction when he receives divorce papers.”
Asked if there were weapons on the premises, she wrote, “Yes.” In fact, Mr. Dye had an arsenal which Ms. Dye and her family would later beg the local police to help them deal with, but they did nothing.
She went into hiding in Texas, then returned to Oklahoma to attend divorce proceedings. Two weeks after obtaining the initial order, her still-husband accosted her in a bank parking lot.
Witnesses reported that Mr. Dye tried to drag her into his truck. When she fought back, Mr. Dye shot her in the leg with a 357 revolver. On the ground. he put several more shots into her, saying, “I love you, I love you,” according to the police report. He then shot himself in the chest with a different gun, a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, and fell dead, onto his wife’s body.
In a 1994 crime bill, over the strident objections of the NRA, that barred most people subject to full protective orders filed by intimate partners were prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. In a nod to the concerns of the gun lobby, the statute excluded most people under temporary orders, on the ground that they had not yet had the opportunity to contest the accusations in court.
Washington State has tried to enact firearm surrender laws. In 2004, Democratic Representative Ruth Kagi introduced a bill mandating the surrender of firearms with temporary protective orders. The bill couldn’t even make it out of committee. The NRA lobbyist, Brian Judy, testified that the measure granted “extraordinarily broad authority to strip firearms rights.”
Wisconsin became one of the first states to require the surrender of firearms with full protective orders in the mid-1990s. But by 2010, provisions were introduced that people subject to protective orders would have been required to list their firearms and surrender them to the county sheriff or a third party within 48 hours.
The NRA in a new twist, called this “a blatant violation of Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights”. In an alert to members. Jordan Austin, an NRA lobbyist, expanded in his testimony on the bill before an Assembly committee: “Once a person has an injunction issued against him, he is already a prohibited person. He cannot, under the Fifth Amendment, be forced to disclose whether he is in possession of firearms, because that would be tantamount to forcing him to admit a crime.” The bill died in the State Senate.
Kristine Hall, the policy director for the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance says: “There’s often recognition that firearms and domestic violence is a lethal combination, but it’s followed quickly with concerns about taking away an individual’s right to possess a firearm”.
In April 2011 Deborah Wigg in Virginia Beach obtained a protective order against her husband Robert, who she was in the process of divorcing. In her petition, she described a violent encounter in which Mr. Wigg grabbed her by her hair, threw her down, ripped out a door and threw it at her. He was arrested and charged with assault. She also made clear in the petition that her husband owned a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun. She eventually won a full protective order, but Wigg kept his gun, which he used in his business installing and servicing ATMs.
On Nov. 8, 2011, around 11 p.m., Mr. Wigg showed up at her home ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door. Ms. Wigg called her parents, who lived about a half mile away, and was told her to hang up and call 911.
Her parents headed over and when they arrived, found Ms. Wigg dead from a single shot to the head. Wigg then drove to her parents’, apparently to kill them as well, but they were not there, so he killed himself in their front yard.
This article appears on the fourth anniversary of my first piece for Salem-News. I’ve written several articles about guns and I’ve gained an important insight: In the late 18th century, Americans were afraid of the British. Now they’re afraid of each other. Virtually every person who comments on the need for personal firearms, cites the “need” to protect themselves and their families.
With that thought in mind, I suggest that the last line of the Star-spangled banner be changed from: “O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” to something more contemporary:
“O’er the land of the fearful and home of the paranoid” because no other developed nation in the world (with only small/tiny fractions of gun violence/death) has a citizenry so afraid of itself.
If Wayne LaPierre were President, he and the NRA would introduce and pass laws to make every citizen own a firearm for protection from their fellow citizens because, in America, you never know...
_________________________________________Daniel Johnson is a born and raised Calgarian. He is currently working on a book The Occupy Wall Street User Manual which is scheduled for publication in spring 2013 by Polymath Press In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary) Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2012, has published more than 210 stories. View articles written by Daniel Johnson
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