“For nearly a decade, the National Rifle Association successfully blocked a bill in Washington state that would have required alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order,” huffingtonpost.com reports. “Only those actually convicted of felony domestic violence, the nation’s largest gun lobby argued, should be made to forfeit their gun rights.” Given the legal principle of presumed innocence – a person is until proven guilty – that sounds about right. Judges can and do issue protective orders against suspected domestic abusers without allowing the accused any say in the matter whatsoever. As the HuffPo reports, the NRA’s position on the matter has shifted . . .
This past year, the NRA changed its tune. As the bill, HB 1840, once again moved through the state legislature, the gun lobby made a backroom deal with lawmakers, agreeing to drop its public opposition to it in exchange for a few minor changes. This February, with the NRA’s tacit approval, the bill sailed through the state legislature in a rare unanimous vote . . .
One of the “minor changes”: alleged abusers can surrender their guns to friends and family instead of the state. It’s a change that once again signals the fact that the NRA plays realpolitik, or, if you prefer knows how to make the best of a bad situation. The crap sitch here being the certainty that the law would pass anyway, and that anyone who opposed it would look like they supported domestic abusers. According to the HuffPo some dirty laundry may also have played a part.
The gun lobby wouldn’t say, but the timing suggests that politics, both internal and external, were at play. Documents and press releases reviewed by HuffPost show that the NRA began to relax its position on gun restrictions for alleged domestic abusers after March 2013 — the same month the New York Daily News reported that a top NRA official, Richard D’Alauro, had pleaded guilty to harassing his wife “by subjecting her to physical contact.” A judge served D’Alauro, the NRA’s field representative for New York City and its suburbs, a protective order and ordered police to remove all 39 guns from his home.
D’Alauro’s wife claimed that he had physically abused her for years. He settled the case by pleading guilty to harassment — a less serious charge than a misdemeanor. But once the case started attracting media attention, the NRA began softening its position on gun rights for accused domestic abusers.
Be that as it may, the gun control industry seized on the NRA’s shift as an opportunity to work the whole “civilian disarmament helps protect women” angle.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun violence prevention group, Everytown, sees potential in the NRA’s subtle shift in its stance on domestic violence restrictions. The group plans to push for expanded domestic violence protections as part of a broader campaign to tie gun restrictions to women’s health and safety.
“We’re going to start to talk about the ways gun violence affects everyday Americans, including domestic violence, suicide, and child access to guns,” said Erika Soto Lamb, a spokesperson for Everytown.
With the gun-rights lobby in a bit of a retreat, gun control advocates are beginning to feel emboldened. “This is not your grandfather’s NRA,” Soto Lamb said.
You see what they did there? Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile. Only the NRA and their five million members aren’t in the mile-giving business. Still . . .