Surrendering Weapons in Domestic Abuse Cases


The Record Journal reports on the issue of removing guns from domestic abusers in Connecticut.

When police are called to a domestic violence complaint or a restraining order is issued, weapons are always a chief concern, local law enforcement officials say.
State law allows police to seize any firearm in plain view at the scene of an incident even if no arrest is made and to seize a weapon from someone suspected of committing a crime, even if no arrest has been made. Protective orders require the surrender of weapons and judges usually order the same of people subject to a restraining order.

Area police said they don't hesitate to use those powers and often work pre-emptively to remove weapons in criminal cases before the courts issue orders the next business day.

While involved parties will usually surrender their guns voluntarily, police said, the system isn't foolproof. People can lie or hide weapons, or there can be filing irregularities in the computer database that tracks pistol permits and registrations. And some weapons, such as hunting rifles, don't have to be registered with the state.

The relationship between weapons and domestic violence is in sharp focus locally after an apparent murder-suicide in Southington Saturday, the second such incident in less than a week. Both involved a man apparently killing his ex-wife, then turning the gun on himself. The other incident was in Wallingford.

I would not want to forego due process.  There has to be legal reasons before confiscating anyone's weapons.  But, once those criteria have been met, the removal of those weapons is imperative and will save lives, usually women's lives.

Common sense gun control demands several improvements in the current mish-mash system we have now. 1. background checks on all gun sales, 2. licensing of all gun owners, 3. registration of all firearms.

With proper gun control like that, one of the first areas to see an improvement would be that of domestic violence.  Many times the offender is a law-abiding gun owner up until the time he crosses the line with his wife. Guys like that could be disarmed quickly and surely if the authorities knew what weapons they possessed.

The problem is many people fear that such controls would lead to ever-stricter ones. Gun owners who might not necessarily object to these proposals, vigorously resist them anyway, for fear that ultimately they too will be required to surrender weapons.  I don't agree with that, I think it's paranoid nonsense.  What do you think?

(cross posted at Mikeb302000)

Please leave a comment.



Why They Oppose Background Checks


The background check requirement only applies to Federal Firearms License holders. Private sellers are not required to screen their buyers in any way.

Usually the question of background checks comes up in reference to gun shows. So common is this association that "The Gun Show Loophole" has become synonymous with requiring background checks on all gun sales. This is obviously not the case for the simple reason that not all private gun sales take place at gun shows.

So, legislation requiring background checks at all sales that take place at gun shows is only a partial solution to a very wide-spread problem. I would imagine proponents of this type of legislation expect to expand it eventually to include all private sales, otherwise it wouldn't accomplish what it's supposed to.

The opposition is fierce, primarily by the NRA and by the more extreme gun-rights advocates. Some surveys have shown that they are in the minority, but they are extremely vocal and well financed. Most people feel they're winning.

My question is why, why such powerful and costly opposition? I've identified two reasons which should cover those making up this unreasonable group.

1. Some people actually believe the bizarre suggestion that gun control steps like these would lead to a tyrannical government which will eventually ban all gun ownership and confiscate the ones already owned. Part of this fantasy is that civilian gun ownership is what keeps the government in check. They actually say "the 2nd Amendment preserves the 1st Amendment," and other such nonsense. This is a type of grandiosity mixed with paranoia. To these folks there's no discussing the obvious benefits of proper gun control; they cannot see beyond the glorious struggle for "rights" and "freedom" they fancy themselves involved in.

2. Some people recognize the foolishness of the first group, but they'll never admit it because they both want the same thing. These folks realize very well that making it more difficult for criminals and mentally ill people to get guns is a moral imperative, one which would save many lives, but they don't care. A self-centered, me-first philosophy drives them to resist anything that would result in increased inconvenience and expense. The claims that the inconvenience and increased expense would be minimal, doesn't phase them. They are as stubborn as the first group and are happy to support them in their mutual cause.

To sum up, you've got paranoid lunatics and self-centered people who together make up the background-check resistance. Becuase of their successful opposition, at least so far, I blame them for the baleful results.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.



Shocking News About Gun Laws and Crime

Guns abound and the far right’s interpretation of the second amendment (the only one that seems to matter) is now inviolate.
Peter Daou, The Demise of the Left

Ah, another day, another campus shooting. This time it happened in my home town of Austin, TX. I'm surprised to see the author of "More Guns, Less Crime" is cancelling his speech scheduled for tonight near campus. Apparently there is just a tiny modicum of shame left on the right. But never fear, UT Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (yes that's a real organization) are working to get his speech rescheduled ASAP.

I wonder if they'll even pay attention to the latest research on gun trafficking. The New York Times reports on a new study released by Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Guns:

A study due to be released this week by a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns uses previously unavailable federal gun data to identify what it says are the states that most often export guns used in crimes across state lines. It concludes that the 10 worst offenders per capita, led by Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky, supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states last year.

The study also seeks to draw a link between gun trafficking and gun control laws by analyzing gun restrictions in all 50 states in areas like background checks for gun purchases, policies on concealed weapons permits and state inspections of gun dealers. It finds that, across the board, those states with less restrictive gun laws exported guns used in crimes at significantly higher rates than states with more stringent laws. An advance copy of the study was provided to The New York Times.

It's sad that it requires research to show what ought to be obvious. But I guess if house flies had a lobby as well-funded as the NRA, window screen supporters would have to organize and put out studies like "screens on your windows keeps flies out of the house."


What will it take to close the gun show loophole?

How many more tragedies need to happen before elected officials have the guts to close the gun show loophole? The latest high-profile beneficiary of this loophole was the mentally ill attacker in the recent shootings near the Pentagon.

Law enforcement officials say [John Patrick] Bedell, a man with a history of severe psychiatric problems, had been sent a letter by California authorities Jan. 10 telling him he was prohibited from buying a gun because of his mental history.

Nineteen days later, the officials say, Bedell bought the Ruger at a gun show in Las Vegas. Such a sale by a private individual does not require the kind of background check that would have stopped Bedell's purchase.

Republican politicians fall all over themselves trying to prove how loyal they are to the National Rifle Association. Some are against any kind of background checks for people who want to carry firearms in public. Too many Democrats are afraid to stand up to this NRA-approved extremism. Meanwhile, a Republican pollster's recent survey of gun owners shows that they understand the need for reasonable limits:

Mr. Luntz queried 832 gun owners, including 401 card-carrying N.R.A. members, in a survey commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the alliance of hundreds of executives seeking stronger gun laws. In flat rebuttal of N.R.A. propaganda, the findings showed that 69 percent of N.R.A. members supported closing the notorious gun-show loophole that invites laissez-faire arms dealing outside registration requirements.

Even more members, 82 percent, favored banning gun purchases to suspects on terrorist watch lists who are now free to arm. And 69 percent disagreed with Congressionally imposed rules against sharing federal gun-trace information with state and local police agencies.

I know it's not realistic to hope that a historically large Democratic majority in Congress would have the guts to take on the gun show loophole. (They can barely find enough votes to pass what's essentially a 1993 Republican health care reform proposal.) Too bad "pro-gun" Democrats would rather preserve their NRA scorecard ratings than enact limits that even rank and file NRA members find reasonable.

Why the First Amendment may be more American than the Second

I love taking target practice at the local firing range, but at the same time, I want to regulate the hell out of those firearms and would never carry them in public. Here's a good article from Salon about the culture significance of the yahoos with guns outside presidential events. Why am I not surprised that they hate democracy?

In early August, a protester came to a raucous Tennessee congressional forum packing heat. Days later, President Obama's healthcare event in New Hampshire was marred by a protester posing for cameras with a pistol and sign reading, "It is time to water the tree of liberty" -- a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote promising violence. And this past week, 12 armed men -- including one with an assault rifle -- not only showed off their firearms at Obama's Arizona speech, but broadcast a YouTube video threatening to "forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority."

These and other similar examples are accurately summarized with the same language federal law employs to describe domestic terrorism. Generating maximum media attention, the weapons-brandishing displays are "intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Yes, the gun has been transformed from a sport and self-defense device into a tool of mass bullying. Like the noose in the Jim Crow South, its symbolic message is clear: If you dare engage in the democratic process, you risk bodily harm.

With that implicit threat, the incessant arguments about gun ownership have been supplanted by a more significant debate over which should take precedence: The Constitution's First or Second Amendment?

Based on America's history, the Founders' answer to that question clearly lies in the Bill of Rights' deliberate sequencing.

The First Amendment ethos guarantees people -- whatever their politics -- a fundamental right to participate in their democracy without concern for physical retribution. It is the primary amendment because America was first and foremost created not as a gun-owners' haven, but as a place to shelter citizens from oppression.

Over two centuries, we have taken this tradition seriously, enacting statutes reinforcing freedoms of speech, creating the secret ballot, and outlawing harassment at Election-Day polling stations. This is why, whether tracing roots to Colonial England, Nazi Germany or any other tyranny, so many Americans say they came here specifically looking for protection from political persecution.

See also Frank Rich's column today on a similar subject.

There's more...


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