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.