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Today I read of a terrible crime in which a young woman was abducted from a bus, along with her 3 year old child, by a man against whom she had a restraining order. She was fatally shot in front of many witnesses and the man fled with the child. The perpetrator was later shot by a police sniper. Tragedies such as this are a daily occurrence in this country. Over a thousand people are killed in domestic violence incidents in the United States annually.

I was, therefore, somewhat surprised that all of the comments to the article said something like “We must do something about all this gun violence”. Apparently, if the woman had been abducted at knifepoint and fatally stabbed, that would have been better.

Domestic Violence is also a banner issue for anti-gun politicians. More laws are being passed to take firearms from people who are accused of domestic violence. They are even pushing laws to take guns from those deemed to be “at high risk” of domestic violence.

My perspective on this comes from painful personal experience. I was married for two years to a charming sociopath who had no more respect for the law than he did for women. I won’ go into how I got myself into that mess. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I escaped with my life and my children’s lives. This was twenty years ago and maybe things have improved for young women in my situation. However, I think not since I read of so many deaths.

So, wouldn’t I, of all people, want to see psychos like my ex disarmed. I would. But, it’s never that simple. I think those who have been convicted of domestic violence, like those who are convicted of other crimes of violence, should not have guns. Understanding that there is a period of limbo between arrest and conviction, I think a judge should decide if there is sufficient cause to restrict the accused person’s right to arms. Again, this is not an uncommon pretrial condition for in cases of violent crime. Do you see a pattern here? I believe that domestic violence crimes should be treated as other crimes of violence are. Most of all I don’t want to see VICTIMS disarmed because dual restraining orders were issued, a common practice.

The fact is that a restraining order is just a piece of paper it is not protection. Lots of women die with one in their purse. A violent, abusive person doesn’t respect the law. All that paper does is give the police something with which to charge him when he stalks, threatens or harasses the victim. Sometimes it raises a flag in the 911 system and rates a faster police response to that address. Sometime, without one, police will do absolutely nothing about the situation.

Back to my story. I left my husband with our two children, a baby and a one year old. I also had a four year old from a previous marriage and a twelve year old sister who was my ward. I rented an apartment, changed my name and filed for divorce. My ex had been arrested and convicted of assaults against me. He was on probation and I had a restraining order. After numerous lesser incidents, he kicked in my door one night and attempted to rape me. I managed to get away and flee to a neighbor with him in pursuit. Confronted by my friend’s husband and father, my husband left the scene. An hour later the most unpleasant police officer I have ever met arrived. His attitude was hostile and he asked what I expected him to do. It went like this:

Me: Arrest him

Cop: For what?

Me: Assault, attempted rape, violating a restraining order

Cop: He’s not here, he’s not violating anything

Me: I have these witnesses

Cop: For all I know, you invited him

Me: Well, look at me, he attacked me, he tried to rape me

Cop: For all I know, you like it rough and you’re just mad he didn’t stick around to cuddle

Me: I’m separated from him. I didn’t want this. He tried to rape me

Cop: You’re not divorced. It can’t be rape if you’re married (not true, even then)

This was frustrating, humiliating and made me really, really angry. This officer was later fired after he beat his wife so badly she ended up in ICU. I went to the State’s Attorney and filed the charges myself. Then I got a gun.

I didn’t ever have to shoot him. I let him know I had it and that was enough. But, he filed for a restraining order against me, knowing that the gun would be taken if it was granted. It was a small court and the judge knew the situation so it was denied. But, where would I be if it had been granted, as they so often are? Defenseless, maybe dead. He also tried reporting to Child Protective Services that the gun was a danger to the kids. A talk between them and my attorney, along with assurance the gun was safely stored, ended that. Since that time, nobody has ever touched me without my consent or broken into my home. I will never be a victim again.

So, yes, I’m glad he didn’t have a gun. But, I know if he really wanted one, a court order or a law wouldn’t have stopped him from having one. I guess I’m lucky he preferred to hurt me up close and personal.

On the other hand, if his tactic were successful, I would have also been banned from having a gun. I’m a generally, law abiding person so that would have been a dilemma for me. I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen law over life. I’m glad I didn’t have to choose. I’m glad that it was a one judge court and his restraining order against me was denied so I didn’t have to make the choice between being a criminal and protecting myself.

So, I really abhor the idea that Democrats are trying to disarm people on the basis of accusations, not evidence, and worse, on risk assessments. My guess is that if it is determined to be a high risk relationship for violence, both parties will be barred from lawful gun ownership. They apparently think victims are completely incapable of ever being anything else.

While I do believe that there’s no need to make weapons access easy for criminals, I also believe strongly in the right to due process. There must at least be probable cause, not just accusations. Those falsely accused have deserve their day in court. Victims should be empowered, not made more helpless.

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