The NRA Fights to Keep Guns in the Hands of Wife Beaters

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 10:54 EDT
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Add another to the long list of things that the NRA considers less important than maintaining high profits for the gun industry: Preventing men from killing their wives after they’ve already been identified as a threat to do so.  This article from the New York Times about the NRA’s dogged protection of the gun “rights” of wife beaters is absolutely nauseating. Over and over again, anti-domestic violence activists and legislators try to make it harder for men who have a hankering to kill their wives from arming themselves to do so, and over and over again, the NRA throws a fit and makes sure the sacred right of a man to control a woman through violence is protected. Considering how many wife beaters kill themselves after shooting their wives, it doesn’t even seem like a good use of NRA resources, as those men are dead now and can no longer continue to buy guns and line the NRA’s pockets. But we are talking about the same organization that’s decided to get into the fight over whether or not it’s rape if it’s not a stranger in the bushes, so perhaps being hateful to women is its own reward.

At stake here is whether or not states should be able to seize the guns of people who have restraining orders filed against them. The common sense answer is yes, as restraining orders aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on if there isn’t any attempt to actually, you know, restrain the violent person from acting violently towards his victim. Unless the people who have restraining orders put upon them are members of militias, they have no constitutional right to have guns. No one is proposing that these people be locked up without a trial. A good middle ground between protecting the right of due process and preventing wife beaters from murdering women who dare make the choice to leave them is to take the guns and make it harder for them to go on a killing rampage.

What’s interesting about this article is that pilot programs in California that are trying to enforce gun seizure are apparently very effective.

“We have not had a firearm-related domestic violence homicide in the last three years,” said Sgt. Linda Gibbons, who oversees the program as the head of the major crimes unit in the county sheriff’s office.

Last year alone, the program took in 324 firearms through seizure or surrender from 81 people, out of more than 800 protective orders it reviewed.

Every morning, Detective John Kovach, who handles a range of domestic violence investigations, reviews a stack of protective orders filed the day before — generally 15 to 20 a day — looking for any mention of firearms.

Usually, a handful of orders a day will contain some reference to guns, which Detective Kovach follows up on. He sometimes contacts the person protected by the order to find out more. He also checks various law enforcement databases, including one available in California that tracks handgun purchases.

He goes out once or twice a week and serves the restraining orders himself. Usually, he says, he tries to collect firearms immediately, employing a well-honed sales pitch about helping the person comply with the law. If he believes beforehand that the person might not be cooperative, he will sometimes request a search warrant.

“My experience is the quicker you act, the more successful you’re going to be,” he said.

This demonstrates how the NRA is about protecting the interests of the gun industry over the gun consumer. By taking these quick measures, Det. Kovach is not only saving the lives of abused women, but he’s also saving the lives of the gun-owning abusers. As long as the gun is around, the temptation for an abuser remains high to grab it, chase down his ex-wife, and either kill or kidnap her. There is no good ending for a man who gives into that temptation, and so Kovach is doing these men a favor by taking that possibility off the table. We know for a fact that the first few months after a woman leaves her abuser are the most dangerous, because the abuser is really pumped up to regain control of the woman he has lost control of. There is no good that can come of letting men in that heightened state of anger and feeling out of control have guns.

This is what happens when the gun industry exerts so much control over legislation. As a society, we should all agree that keeping women safe from violence is more important than keeping the profits of gun manufacturers high, and yet here we are. People who have a financial interest in not preventing murder should have no place at the table when discussing the prevention of murder; they are fundamentally opposed to the purpose of the discussion. It’s ironic that this understanding is not questioned in business; people who oppose higher profits for a company aren’t allowed to sit in on board meetings. And yet people who have a financial interest in not preventing murder—and in fact use the existence of murder as a marketing tool to encourage people to buy their product—are allowed to control the discourse about murder prevention. That’s ridiculous, and it’s time that people started seeing it for what it is.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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