“More than a dozen states have strengthened laws over the past two years to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, a rare area of consensus in the nation’s highly polarized debate over guns.” That’s the AP’s take on the spate of gun laws that mandate firearms confiscation for people (mostly but not exclusively men) subject to an ex parte domestic abuse-related retraining order. To be clear . . .
ex parte is a Latin legal term meaning “a decision decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to the controversy to be present.” In other words, due process, the right to confront one’s accusers, guaranteed by Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, doesn’t apply.
As the AP article points out, the NRA hasn’t exactly taken a hard line against these new laws.
The National Rifle Association has taken a cautious approach toward such bills, opposing the farthest-reaching measures but staying neutral or negotiating compromises on others. For example, the NRA has fought provisions that would require people to surrender their guns before they have a chance to contest allegations made in a request for an emergency protective order.
“There is no evidence that simply taking away people’s guns without a fair hearing makes the victims any safer,” NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said . . .
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in 2014 requiring people subject to domestic abuse restraining orders to turn over their guns within 48 hours. The NRA stayed neutral after negotiating language that allows individuals to seek the return of their weapons once restraining orders are lifted.
To quote L. Neil Smith, the right to keep and bear arms is a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right. As such, it is not subject to the democratic process nor arguments of social utility. We all know that confiscating a domestic abuser’s guns won’t stop them from acts of violence. But arguing that gun confiscation without due process doesn’t work doesn’t cut it. Gun confiscation without due process is unconstitutional. Period.
The NRA is the only gun rights group shying away from calling an unconstitutional spade an unconstitutional spade, presumably to avoid being seen as the “bad guy” protecting domestic abusers in a War on Women kinda way.
Kim Stolfer, president of the Pennsylvania group Firearms Owners Against Crime, said his organization isn’t on board with the idea yet. He said such legislation could be exploited by vindictive ex-spouses who level false allegations of abuse.
“We need some balance, and it’s rapidly going the wrong way,” he said.
It’s hard to maintain “balance” when you’re sliding down a slippery slope. To wit . . .
Federal law has long prohibited felons, those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse crimes and individuals subject to permanent protective orders from buying or owning guns. Critics say the federal law is too weak because it does not apply to dating relationships, does not ban guns during temporary protective orders and does not establish procedures for abusers to surrender firearms.
States have been passing their own laws to match or exceed the federal prohibitions, delighting gun control advocates.
“We’ve passed them in blue states, red states and purple states,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We believe they are absolutely lifesaving.”
Some of the strictest state laws create processes for seizing firearms from abusers and extend gun bans to stalkers, abusive dating partners and those who are subject to temporary protective orders.
Studies by public health researchers have generally concluded that such laws, when properly implemented, can reduce deaths.
Citation? Generally, specifically, none. Meanwhile, led by the AP, the assault media has taken this “abusers should have their guns taken away” meme and run with it. Here’s a screen cap of today’s Google search for “gun” [links not active]:
No one argues against gun confiscation for convicted domestic abusers, stalkers or dating partners — although locking them up is a far more effective solution. The point here: “innocent until proven guilty” is a founding principle of our Constitutional democracy.
No gun rights organization worth its salt supports any law violating that principle, no matter how “useful” it might seem. The NRA and its allies should be lobbying for laws that make it easier for actual and potential victims of domestic abuse to defend themselves by force of arms. And opposing any further degradation of our civil rights.