According to KIMT reporter Natalie Tendall’s official bio, “she loved to play news reporter as a child.” Judging from her article Domestic Abuser Gun Bill Reaction, she’s still playing at being one now. Tendall (or someone) has crafted a by-the-numbers editorial masquerading as a news story supporting an Iowa bill authorizing the state to confiscate firearms from suspected domestic abusers. Well, not exactly. Tendall doesn’t provide the bill’s number or a link to its text. [Download a pdf of HF 2397 here] Has she even read it? Why bother, when you can trot-out supporters, unverified statistics and horrific anecdotes. “More than two hundred Iowans have died as a result of domestic violence since 1995,” Tendall’s script begins. “Now, steps are being taken at the capital to save more of those lives by not letting abusers own guns . . .

Maria is a domestic abuse survivor knows who first hand what it’s like being threatened with a weapon. She said, ‘before I knew it he had a gun on me and held it directly to my head and said he was going to kill me.’ That’s exactly the kind of situation the abuser gun bill is aiming to avoid.

And so on. It’s a slam dunk right? Yes and no.

For one thing, the Iowa state or local judge’s new power to confiscate firearms from a suspected (note: not necessarily convicted) abuser’s home, person, vehicle or workplace applies to someone who is an “intimate partner” of the petitioner. That’s “as defined in Code section 236.2 subsection 2, paragraph ‘a’ through ‘e’.”

Who dat? Here’s the subsection of “non-exclusive factors” in question (or not). These are the criteria a judge must use to decide whether or not a gun-owner is the abuse complainant’s “intimate partner”:

a)  The duration of the relationship.

(b)  The frequency of interaction.

(c)  Whether the relationship has been terminated.

(d)  The nature of the relationship, characterized by either party’s expectation of sexual or romantic involvement.

(2)  A person may be involved in an intimate relationship with more than one person at a time.

5.  “Intimate relationship” means a significant romantic involvement that need not include sexual involvement.  An intimate relationship does not include casual social relationships or associations in a business or professional capacity.

OK, so there isn’t an “e”. But this is complicated stuff. Can you imagine a judge trying to decide if these criteria apply to a man who may or may not be in a relationship with a woman claiming who may or may not face a deadly threat from an abusive “intimate”? What’s the bet a judge will “err on the side of caution” and sign-off on a gun raid?

As callous as this sounds, how many people could be killed during firearms confiscation vs. a domestic abuse situation? Actually, it’s not callous; how would you like to be the widow of a police officer killed by a [formerly] legal gun owner falsely accused of domestic violence?

And if the state seizes a potential abuser’s guns, what are the odds he’ll turn to another weapon such as a knife or blunt object? Common sense may not be our guide here; which weapon is likely to be more lethal?

Back up. How many domestic abuse cases involving gun violence are there in Iowa? Of those “over 200” people killed by domestic abuse in Iowa since ’95 (a small number in absolute terms), how may were shot? TTAG is looking into it, even if KMIT isn’t.

Meanwhile, glossing over the need for some honest-to-God reporting and statistical perspective, Tendall turns to a less than independent source for “the big picture.”

Director of Crisis Intervention Services, Mary Ingham says when a gun is in the mix, the amount of domestic abuse deaths goes up.

Ingham said, “guns are an incredible intimidation device and every day we have victims talking about how last night my partner played russian roulette…imagine the terror.”

Imagine a woman who wants to punish someone she knows by convincing the state to confiscate his guns. What about a gun-control group that’s willing to engage in judicial subterfuge for the “greater good”? And if you think that’s paranoid, what about a woman who plans to shoot a lover, ex-lover or object of her obsession, and uses the law to disarm him? [NB: the gender used here is irrelevant.]

Does “either party’s expectation of sexual or romantic involvement” mean that the person who’s about to lose his Second Amendment rights could be someone the complainant thinks MIGHT become her intimate partner? Someone she WANTS to be her intimate?

False allegations of domestic abuse from mentally unstable citizens are hardly unknown. In fact, there’s a website for that. Shouldn’t this firearm confiscation order apply to people proven to be a threat? Never mind. If ONE victim is saved . . .

Hang on. As Tendall points out in paragraph three of her story, “According to federal law, domestic abusers are not allowed to carry firearms, but Iowa doesn’t have enough officials to enforce that rule.” And that’s a reason to add a duplicate law that gives state and local judges the same power to over-rule Second Amendment rights currently reserved by a federal judge? Apparently so.

What’s missing here: data. Once again, the media is choosing sides in an important piece of gun-related legislation without asking its supporters to prove their case with verifiable statistical data. Never mind providing critical examination of that data.

Also, what about alternatives? No one is arguing for domestic violence. But if a gun owner is a life-threatening danger to “an intimate,” wouldn’t it be more effective to jail him (remove him from access to both legal and illegal guns) than to remove legal guns from his possession (confiscating the weapons)?

And where are the bill’s opponents in all this media coverage? Dismissed and ignored as gun nuts. Again. Still.

4 Responses to How Not To Report a Gun-Related Story: Iowa’s New Domestic Abuse Gun Confiscation Law

  1. I’m curious, as you talk about getting the “real facts” have you ever spent time observing or working with an organization such as Crisis Intervention Service referred to in your artice? Ever spent time with women who have been abused and threatened within an inch of their life if they leave? Yes, some women lie. Yep, some women get even. The number is very small. What number isn’t small is the number of women who don’t tell or only tell part of the story. By the time a woman is ready to say he’s got a gun and I think he will use it, she has been abuse for years and knows she has to leave…except, the most likely time an offender is going to kill his victim is when she leaves.

    I understand that men are pissed off that women have spent the past 20-30 years defending themselves. While you are doing your “fact check” I would suggest you look at this history of violence against women from the time humans starting walking upon this earth. Women have been and are still in many cultures (I would assert including the U.S. ) as property or people who are serve only in a man-serving role and to have no voice or sense of self. Want to stop women from accumsing men that they are being violent, start teaching boys that hitting women as a way to deal with relationship issues isn’t okay. Take the time to learn about domestic violence offenders – most of them are deemed as having an anti-social personality disorder (that’s the same diagnosis given to serial killers). They are people who don’t care about others and they are intent on having absolute power and control over those they can. Which is where firearms and this law comes in. In order for police to protect the victims as well as children, neighbors, and themselves, they need to get the firearms out of the possession of these guys. If you are doing an adequate job of fact checking, you will find that when a domestic violent offender decides its time to kill he often takes out the children as well as any bystanders. Owning a gun is a protected right. However, just like the 1st Amendment, when you right inflicts injury to me, you longer have the right – you lose the right.

    And by the way, those 200 women you don’t think are such a big deal to lose to domestic violence…to the family, friends and loved ones grieving their loss, it is a big deal. I’m curious, if someone took out a member of your family with a gun that he shouldn’t have had access to if you would still feel the same way about gun rights.

  2. Interesting points Stacie, but you’ve missed the bulk of the issue here.

    “More than 200 Iowans” How many of those are in fact women? How many are children? How many are men? If we give you a gimme and ASSYOUME that they are all women, How many of those women killed in domestic abuse were killed with guns? They don’t say. This is the issue, no one is advocating domestic violence we just want a fair shake. If you going to say guns are used in a certain way, use facts and numbers.

    As for the rest of your argument, it’s just feminist war-mongering. Just because you’ve seen others mistreated doesn’t make all men the bad guys.

  3. Keep in mind also that half at least of all domestic violence is committed by….wait
    for it…women. Its one of feminism’s dirty little secretes…

  4. I did not have any sisters, but growing up, my male buddies with sisters fought just as often as I did with brothers. Those sisters did not hold back, as often as not, they started it.
    I contend that a good percentage of these women continued thier ways. I was taught never to hit women, there have been a few I would have liked to hit, I did not. I have seen 100 lb women go after a 220 lb bubba and hurt him. Just because a man has firearms does not mean he would ever use them in a threatening way against anyone he knows.
    Firearms are protection against people that are doing you harm. The fact that you are scared for your life means you have to use a deadly weapon.
    This is just a way for women to get back at a man. How many women have sworn statements that they think a man has or is having sex with her children, just to hurt him. Later, when no proff comes forth, the man has had lost everything in the divorce(he can’t file suit for slander), and the woman has custody of the children, the house and the good vehicle.

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