By Rob Morse, slowfacts.wordpress.org [republished with permission from jpfo.org]

Domestic violence makes me think of battered women. It is that, and it is more. Sometimes the real victim is abused twice; once by their abuser and once by the law. We need the full due process of the legal system to protect the innocent victim of domestic abuse. We want the law to make things better. At worst we want the law to do no harm to the innocent party. That simple requirement makes good law hard to find. The innocent person can be savaged by average laws in the hands of corrupt prosecutors and clever accusers. We’ve seen this time and again with gun laws. Let me show you the evil hidden in poorly crafted laws that take guns from those “accused” of domestic violence . . .

A good feeling gone wrong – We all have the urge to protect the innocent and take guns away from domestic abusers. Those same laws that originally protected married couples have now been extended to boyfriends and girlfriends. Yes, you could have your gun rights taken from you for life if your date says you threatened her.. or threatened him. I include both men and women because both men and women are abusive in almost equal numbers. Except for sexual coercion, men and women perpetrate physical and non-physical forms of abuse at comparable rates and here.

Living with a broken law – Here is an important distinction between domestic violence and other crimes; you don’t lose your gun rights because you threatened your partner. You lose your rights if your partner merely accuses you of threatening them. The law leans so far to protect the possible victim that it only takes an accusation for the power of the state to punish you. Your accusing partner might be angry that you grabbed their car keys while they were drunk, but your accuser may never have to offer evidence or even a sworn affidavit testifying to your “abusive” conduct.

Abusing the law – Why would someone lie about something as serious as physical assault? The usual reasons are enough. Does your partner want a new boyfriend? Does your ex-partner resent your breakup and want the children? Does your roommate want the apartment to themselves? I know you don’t think that way, but sometimes good people succumb to temptation. Think about this the next time a visiting roommate says, “Pretty nice place you have here.” Bad laws leave us vulnerable to lawfare.

The asymmetry of accusation – Remember that all it takes is an accusation rather than the legal standard of reasonable doubt, the civil standard of preponderance of evidence, or solid proof and a jury’s decision. Now you have a legal accusation against you, and I’ve never read of a criminal penalty being imposed for false accusations of domestic violence. I looked. It might happen, but I couldn’t find examples of punishment. False accusation cost the accuser nothing. That is bad law.

Turning the innocent into victims – Say you’ve been accused and now your guns are gone. Maybe you’ll lose your job as well unless you got rid of your guns very carefully. I know lawyers who suddenly acquired an entire gun collection in a single evening. Yes, people with security clearances or a job around money can lose their job if the violence charge gets compounded by a firearms violation. Did you miss a single deformed bullet as you cleaned out your stuff? Did you leave behind a recycled shell casing hidden away in a bucket in the basement? Don’t expect justice. With the help of a divorce lawyer, a punitive judge sees those incidental articles as ammunition components.

Using the law as a weapon – There are legitimate cases of domestic abuse. There are also abuses of the system. We don’t want the law to inadvertently arm and empower the abuser. The first person to make the claim often has the assumption of innocence. That fact can be used by a perpetrator to disarm their victim. The abuser can disarm their victim both physically and psychologically by manipulating gun laws. Anyone can claim to be a victim of domestic violence because of our low standards of evidence. When it comes to firearms, we don’t want to remove a legitimate tool of self-defense and so give the abuser another weapon to use against the abused.

Think like a criminal – Criminals don’t fear the criminal justice system. Dedicated criminals plan ways to manipulate others using the law as a weapon. You would probably be forced from your home once you’ve been accused of domestic violence. Few of us have another place to live and are instantly ready to move. That leaves your computer, your money, your valuables, your personal and financial records, your guns and perhaps your children in someone else’s possession. That is a very vulnerable place to be. All the accuser has to do is be the first one on the phone to the police and suddenly they have access to your valuables and your identity.

Making things worse – A calculating abuser uses the criminal justice system to overwhelm his intended victim. An abuser can force his girlfriend to leave her home and perhaps her children by accusing her of assault. Now she loses access to any firearms for self-defense. She could also lose her bank account too, now that the manipulating accuser has access to her records.

The law is a mighty club – You might think this doesn’t apply to you, but I ask you to think again. Half of adults have ex-husbands and ex-wives who might be manipulative. Imagine your wife has a record of military service, and someone wants her, or you, out of the way at work. Your gun collection and a charge of violence against her is all it takes to disarm and preoccupy both of you.

Unintended consequences – Do we really want to disarm a woman who is a victim of domestic violence? We need due process to carefully separate the real perpetrators from those victims who desperately need the tools of self-defense. Yes, our heart goes out to suffering victims of domestic violence. That is different than disarming everyone who is accused. We can’t protect the innocent when they are automatically disarmed by a simple, and perhaps unfounded, accusation. Lives will be ruined if the courts get this one wrong.

Let there be justice – We need to treat domestic violence as a serious criminal charge and require proof and due process before we hand out punishment. A simple cell phone recording has made proof easier than ever to produce in court. We do not want swift enforcement to make things worse. Licensed concealed carry permit holders are extraordinarily peaceful and law abiding.. even more so than police. Most permit holders bought firearms for the very purpose of protecting those they love.

Firearms laws that disarm innocent gun owners can easily aid abusers. Well written laws should not harm the innocent.

30 Responses to Domestic Violence, Due Process and Gun Rights

  1. and this is why the Constitution makes it clear that property may not be seized without due process. the whittling away of our freedoms ranks right up there with global warming, right? RIGHT!

    • Well, our freedoms actually are being whittled away, but Global Warming was thoroughly debunked in the 1970’s. That’s why they changed it to “Climate Change.” They don’t know if the planet is getting warmer or cooler, but they’re absolutely certain that it’s going to kill us all and it’s all your fault!

      And of course, the solution, the thing that’s going to save the planet is to tax us all into slavery.

      The Church of Warmingism is just another gang of useful idiots.

  2. Domestic violence calls are a mess. You’ve got two or more people, totally agitated, and possibly drunk. There can be all sorts of weapons in the house (obviously!). The physical evidence is often inconclusive. Statements are often self – contradictory and / or difficult to understand. There’s a shifting balance of love, hate, and crappy decisions. Yes, I’m bitching, and I know DV’s are part of the job.

    The thing that bothers me is that there might not be any way to properly serve justice if it is impossible to identify the primary aggressor. Abuses between cohabitants driving along the road can also be classified as domestic violence if they meet certain conditions, so be careful how you argue with your wife or girlfriend. It’s best not to drive around with crazy women, although I’ve definitely done some of that.

    I wish I could offer some fantastic advice so folks could avoid domestic violence pitfalls, and the subsequent removal of gun rights, but there aren’t a whole lot of steadfast rules. If you can be the first to call police, if it gets to that, then you may have an advantage as being classified as the initial victim. Also, if you can calmly and intelligently speak to the police, it may help to exonerate you. Heck, record conversations on your cell phone, if need be.

    • I cant stand domestic violence calls. For the simple fact that one wrong word or phrase and both parties can turn against you.

      I responded to one once and even though both parties were (sort of) seperated, there was still a lot of “he said, she said” going on. I simply stated that Im not here to take sides and they suddenly are both buddy buddy and trying to get at me. Thankfully PD was there.

  3. This is exactly what happened to my brother-in-law. While working through divorce proceedings, his soon-to-be ex-wife filed for a personal protection order. She simply accused my brother-in-law of threatening her (without any evidence and without my brother-in-law even present) and the judge immediately issued the personal protection order. Presto: no more guns for my brother-in-law. Deputies arrived and ordered my brother-in-law to immediately vacate his home. My brother-in-law asked how long he had to pack up. Their response, “We will give you 10 minutes. After that, we have to leave as soon as we get another call.”

    As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that my brother-in-law ever harmed nor threatened his ex-wife. But that doesn’t matter to our “justice” system. Apparently the Fourth Amendment right to due process doesn’t apply when someone could be in danger. When is someone going to challenge this in the courts?

    • Precisely why when I was getting divorced, I moved out of the house and didn’t go near it until it had sold and I went to get the rest of my stuff with a moving crew with her agreement after she had removed all of her things. That was a bit of a luxury as I didn’t have any kids, but I wouldn’t have put it past my now ex-wife to get a restraining order based on the fact that I was a gun owner. Given the politics of the state where I lived at the time, it would have been easy for her to do that.

  4. Just throwing this out there, but any man interested in keeping his liberty, freedom and property would be fully and incomparably insane to get married. This is only one of a myriad of ways that domestic law is skewed in this nation, and it is most often skewed against men, specifically for the benefit of women. Don’t get married, don’t cohabit. The entire edifice of relationships is built on the legal victimization and presumption of the guilt of the man.

    • There is no reason for a man to get married or cohabit unless he wants to start or have a family. Otherwise, it’s a fool’s bargain.

      Then again, being expected to pay for the date and then doing so is also stoopid.

  5. Thank you for the reminder to never get involved with my ex again. This exactly the kind of thing she would try to pull.

  6. If the law can be used as a weapon against you, your best defense (and offense) is to lawyer up. Yes, we live in a society over-ripe with litigation, but unless you metaphorically want your pants pulled down on the way to complete and total violation, you need a good lawyer.

    Of course, if you have ANY suspicion the person you’re partnering with is crazy… shouldn’t you be avoiding marriage and/or any long-term attachment with them in the first place?

  7. Yes these laws suck. My ex abused me and used the law to further abuse me. Now, I can’t handle a firearm for two years. The only saving grace is my attorney got me a deal that all the bs goes away in two years and my record stays clean provided I have no brushes with the law, which shouldn’t be a problem since I’m a law abiding citizen.

    • Dear Guest.
      I’m sorry you were abused. I wrote the article so your story is told. Now let us fix the law so the next victim isn’t chewed up twice. Glad things will get better for you in a few years.
      Rob

  8. Best advice a lawyer ever gave me was during my divorce. I can’t repeat it word for word but her is the gist of it.

    Forget that is the woman you loved and had good times with. Forget that she’s the mother of your children. From this moment on, she’s the enemy.

    Sound advice. I got the kids and she was supposed to pay me child support.

    Except for the restraining order/lose your guns thing divorce is actually getting better for men. When I was a yoot the judges just automatically gave everything to the wife, kids, house. All the man got was the bills.

    I don’t remember the last time anybody I know had to pay alimony to an ex wife.

    • Wow, I wish someone told me that the first time I separated from my ex wife. Things would have been a lot easier that way.

    • Everyone in the military, for life. If they are married for 10 years or more while on AD then the spouse has a right to 50% of the retirement pay regardless of when the divorce was or why. Divorced as a Captain after 10 years and retire at 25 as a Colonel yeah she gets 50 percent of that even though you were divorced for 15 years of that career. Divorce because of infidelity or abuse, yeah they were still there to “support you” and “served with you” during that career and they earned that 50%.

      Guy in my office is going through that exact situation right now.

      • Wow, pyra. back in the day I argued that servicemen should remain single because of the lifestyle we led. I never thought of it from the divorce and retirement side. i waited til my time in was up before I got married.

    • My buddy had to pay alimony to his ex-wife who was able to successfully claim the “need” for it. She shacked up with her new man in a different state. They didn’t get married because it would cause the alimony to stop. My buddy, also a police officer, was on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars, credit card debt, and payed off a 2005 Pontiac GTO. He did get custody of his son, because he was deemed the more responsible parent. The silver lining – if you can call it that – was that the ex-wife overdosed on drugs and died a few years later.

      She was one of the most crazy exes I’ve ever known. A lady may divorce a man, but she’ll never divorce his paycheck. Or inheritance. Or retirement. Or property…

  9. It’s “innocent until proven guilty”, not “innocent until proven guilty unless the accuser and the accused have the same address”. No one should ever lose their Constitutionally protected rights based on mere accusation. This applies to the Second Amendment as well as it does the Sixth.

  10. I thank God that I waited to get married. After serving 7-years as an USAF cop, having to respond to numerous domestic disputes where I saw some of the worst in humanity, I learned that a pretty face is not a sign of innocence. Domestic disputes are the worst calls. In 1989, 70% of all murders occurred during domestic disputes, and a large number of assaults against military police occurred during calls to domestic disputes. In many calls I responded to, both parties lied profusely. In most cases, unless there is real evidence, there is no way to tell what happened. In many cases, the only thing we could do is write a report, separate the spouses, and turn it over to SPI for further investigation. Knowing what I know, I can honestly say from experience that permanently revoking a right solely based on an unproven accusation of domestic abuse is wrong in so many ways. People lie, and in domestic disputes, they lie a lot. Also, if there is a belief that a spouse is predisposed toward violence, merely seizing their guns without seizing and restricting their access to knives, axes, baseball bats, sticks, and whatever does little. I have a better idea for victims of abuse. My wife has three concealed weapons permits, taken numerous defensive shooting courses, and shoots better than anyone I know. She is comfortable with her abilities and perfectly capable of enforcing her own restraining order if need be. It only took a little training, and the discovery that guns are simple tools that are actually enjoyable to shoot.

  11. Um, no. No, a simple threat is NOT enough. Not in the state of Pennsylvania, anyway.
    I know this from first-hand experience.
    I left my abuser, and he continued to call my phone for three years after the fact. One year after I left him, he was leaving voicemails full of threats to my life. I took my phone and went to police, and replayed those voicemails for them.

    Their response was, “Sorry, we can’t do anything unless he acts on his threats.”

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