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“45-year-old Radcliffe Haughton [above] bought a handgun just two days after his estranged wife obtained a restraining order against him,” reports.  He used the gun to shoot seven women at the spa, killing his wife and two others, before fatally shooting himself.” Three days before Haughton’s murderous spree, a Wisconsin court had ordered the ex-Marine to surrender his weapons. For some reason, the County Sheriff isn’t saying if they made any attempt to collect Haughton’s guns before he opened fire. (I’m thinking no). That said, Haughton “bought the .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun used in the attack from a private owner on Saturday, according to police in Brown Deer, the Milwaukee suburb where Haughton lived.” Which was not against the law . . .

The seller did nothing illegal, however, because Wisconsin law only requires background checks and a 48-hour waiting period from gun dealers, not from private individuals. Still, Sen. Lena Taylor said the shooting highlights the need for better enforcement of laws that require restraining order recipients to surrender their weapons.

“Across Wisconsin there are inconsistent standards, or sometimes none at all, for the collection of weapons owned by domestic abusers,” the Milwaukee Democrat said Monday as she and Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber pushed for [a new] bill.

Taylor’s legislation calls for requiring individuals who are subject to a restraining order to surrender their firearms within 48 hours or face arrest. The bill failed to pass in 2010, after the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups fought it.

Insert rant about evil NRA opposition to “common sense gun control” here, complete with anti-gunners’ demands for immediate confiscation of firearms from individuals subject to a restraining order (where the burden of proof can be extremely low).

Oh, and a call for all private gun sales to go through a gun dealer for a background check.

Actually not. The AP-written report is surprisingly realistic about the potential impact of any such legislation and says nothing, zip, niente, nada about “closing the gun show loophole.” It’s coming alright, but not here.

Tony Gibart, policy coordinator for the Wisconsin Coalition against Domestic Violence, supports Taylor’s bill but admits it may not have done anything to stop Haughton.

“We don’t know what would have prevented this situation,” he said.

Jeff Nass, president of Wisconsin Force, an NRA-chartered state association, said such a law would have done nothing to prevent Haughton’s shooting spree.

“It’s just one of those things that make some people feel better,” Nass said. “It’s just like a restraining order. We know how effective those are. The tragedy is, it’s hard to understand how people think and what deranged people do.”

Exactly. It’s hard to know how gun control advocates believe they can reduce firearms-relate murders by choking-off access to guns. It’s hard to know how they could fail to see that Mrs. Haughton, who’d been terrorized by her husband for years, should have been armed.

Here’s an account of her execution from Imagine how this might have played out if Mrs. Haughton had been armed and the Azana Day Salon & Spa was NOT a gun-free zone.

Betty Brunner, 65, said she had an 11 a.m. appointment with Haughton and was chatting with her, catching up on Haughton’s two daughters. As Haughton went to get Brunner a cup of coffee, Brunner spotted a very tall man standing in the shop, wearing a backpack and holding a revolver, pointing it into the air, she said.

“He spun and when he spun he pointed the gun directly at the reception desk and he yelled, ‘Everybody down, everybody down!'” said Brunner, of Jackson, Wis. “I got down on the floor.”

There were about 16 other people in the shop, she said. But rather than get down on the ground like everyone else, Brunner said, Zina Haughton approached the man.

“Zina walked up to the reception desk kind of shielding the young receptionist and said, ‘What do you want?'” Brunner said.

Haughton spoke to the man as though he was a stranger, calling him “sir,” she said. She recalled Haughton saying, “Anything we can give you, anything you want? These are good people, they’re just here. This is a peaceful place.”

Haughton kept talking to the man, apparently trying to defuse the situation. Brunner said she didn’t realize they were married until afterward. The man then grabbed Haughton by the arm and pulled her away from the reception area and yelled out again, “Everybody down, everybody down!”

He then took Haughton around a wall where other women were also located, she said. Brunner then heard shots fired. When the man returned, she said, she lay very still. She watched him get what she thought was additional ammunition from the backpack.
He asked a woman who was in front of the reception desk to show him the way to a second floor of the spa, she said. But the woman’s knees were bleeding.

“She said, ‘I am so sorry, sir, I can’t. I’m shot, I can’t stand up,'” Brunner said.

Then she watched the man go up the stairs alone.

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  1. And why did he buy the gun from a private individual? I would like to think it was because he’s a careful consumer and he got a good deal. But the ability to circumvent the law is certainly a possibility. Not all criminals are stupid. I am in the small group of gun owners that think a background check for all firearms purchases has merit.

    • I agree with you that a background check (and mental health record check if you’re in Virginia) for all firearm purchases has merit.

    • FBI background checks prevent very few crazies, criminals and people subject to an RO from legally purchasing firearms. A fraction of a fraction. ALL of these people can purchase/steal a gun illegally or use something else to kill. (Yes, there have been mass knife killings.)

      Look at the number of crimes committed by people using guns who didn’t buy them from a legal source. Many? Most? I’ll Google it later but I think you get my point.

      If you ascribe to the “if it saves one life” theory of gun control, I can understand the appeal of a mandatory FBI check for all gun purchases. I don’t. Our liberty, our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, should not be sacrificed on the altar of expediency.

      Simply put (as above): if you try to disarm the bad guys you end up disarming the good guys. You will fail at the first and succeed at the second. Hasn’t worked. Won’t work. Can’t work.

      • I’ve read the 17 replies thus far, but remain unconvinced. A) If few repeat offenders are being caught by background checks then that needs to be addressed first. B) I think requiring checks for private sales would save a lot more than one life. This guy got 3 +1, and could probably have had all of them. C) There are always plenty of guns for sale private party, and without checks there’s nothing slowing those of proven violence from obtaining them. And this guy’s history was violent. D) Erosion of liberties? In 1993 the very concept of background checks caused a huge uproar among gun folks, even pre-Internet. Restraining order checks are only, what, 10 years old? Those regulations are now mostly accepted as reasonable. And gun purchases are at an all time high. (I’m doing my part!!)

        • I personally don’t care how effective such checks are. Noble ends cannot justify evil means. Requiring me to go through some third party in order to dispose of my personal property by selling it to a willing buyer is a violation of my property rights. So long as I am not selling a gun to someone knowing that they intend to commit a crime with it, or to someone who doesn’t have the capacity to be responsible with it (I’m thinking of, say, an eleven-year-old), I should be able to sell my property to whomever I wish.

      • Robert, you’re saying that like it’s fact instead of wishful thinking.

        “FBI background checks prevent very few crazies, criminals and people subject to an RO from legally purchasing firearms.”

    • I agree, the fact is if he was forced to go through a dealer (and not a private sale) he would have a harder time obtaining a firearm. Whether he could still get one is a different story. I have bought all 3 of my guns through dealers, is it that big of a deal? These types of laws would only make it harder on those who can’t get guns from dealers.

      • Depending on where you live, it can be very easy to buy a gun from an individual who doesn’t care if he/she is breaking the law by not going through a dealer for a background check. Especially in urban areas.

        • But just because in some areas it is easy to circumvent does that mean the law shouldn’t exist? For legit buyers it really wouldn’t affect them, for a non-legit it would. Just for the record I own guns and love shooting guns, thankfully I am in a state with rather liberal gun laws, however even if my state were to implement this law I don’t think I would be too upset

        • @Andrew “For legit buyers it really wouldn’t affect them, for a non-legit it would” Uh, yeah, it would affect “legit buyers”, and it wouldnt stop a single criminal. They use straw purchasers to buy guns, so tell me again how this would stop them?

          Violent people are going to do violent things. There is no law that is going to stop them. Better to give all sane people the easiest avenue to arm themselves than add another road block to it.

        • I don’t think it would change anything for either legit or non-legit buyers. Legit buyers are already going to be careful about who they’re selling weapons to, non-legit are going to ignore it along with all of the other firearms laws. It’s a law with good intentions, but poor outcome.

          Bear in mind that every time a law is passed, there is considerable expense to the taxpayers. The legislative process, the printing of materials, the training of law enforcement and district attorneys, the filing of court cases, the time spent in court, the jail resources – it all adds up fast. I think that money would be better spent in providing resources for private gun sellers to get fast and easy background checks on potential buyers, or some other system to facilitate private transfers. Another law isn’t always the answer.

        • @ Joshin, I understand violent people will do violent things no matter what. How exactly would removing the private seller loophole negatively affect legit buyers other than inconvenience, and being on a list. I am not trying to be difficult, I just want real answers.

        • @Andrew Just one more hoop you’re forcing people to jump through in order to be lawful gun owners, while preventing exactly zero crime. So, 1 more inconvenience for law abiding citizens, and no discernible effect on gun crime. Sounds about par for the course for gun control laws.

        • girlswithguns has it right. Best thing to do would be create a system that would allow the transfer and background check over the phone. Make it simple and free for private sales and most people will do it.

        • So would these private sellers face prosecution then if they do sell to someone who fails the background check, or if the private seller does not even check?

        • Criminals will always find a way to circumvent laws. Period. Dont penalize law abiding citizens with a law that will not work.

        • @JoshinGA but where do you draw the line? If criminals will break any law, then you seem to be saying we shouldn’t have laws in the first place. I don’t like driving 25 in a school zone, so should we get rid of that law since criminals will break it anyway?

    • Because a criminal does something heinous, I should have my rights trampled on and freedom restricted? And what if one of these laws mandating background checks for private sales of personal property passed and I didn’t comply with it? You’d be okay with the state putting me in prison or maybe even killing me for because I believe I should be able to sell my property without them butting in?

      If you’re okay with that, kindly FOAD.


      Mike B.

  2. Odd, the wapo article says it was a .40 semi-auto that was purchased and used in the shooting, but the chicago tribune eye-witness says the shooter used a revolver. Now it could just be a simple mix-up in terms. Are there any other sources that confirm one side or the other? Was he using two handguns? Did he buy the .40 as a backup (since it says he had a backpack on him)?

  3. Are you telling me that restraining order didn’t neuter him and prevent violence? Of course the paperwork on the restraining order hits the NICS database instantly. With the restraining order in place it’s hard to imagine any determined loon from acquiring the tools to hurt others.

    We really don’t need anything other than court orders to protect us.

  4. Are you guys kidding me? Or are you being ironic? That’s it’ you’re showing the absurdity of preventive laws to stop some homicidal maniacs from committing murder; restraining orders, gun free zones, waiting periods, back ground checks, shoot! Just out law all guns like they do in Chicago, oh wait, they’re the murder capital of the world.

    Restricting all of our rights to freely buy and sell tools to my friends or neighbors would not have stopped this man from committing murder, we would just be more regulated and controlled, more than we already are and the man would still have committed murder, with a base ball bat, a knife, or a black market gun he could easily buy on the street, ( hows that war on drugs working for you?)

    You want to have stopped this man, pass a law that at the very least that a woman with a restraining order against someone be allowed to carry a gun anywhere, even in a designated gun free zone; that is the kind of law that would have made a difference.

    Better yet pass a law outlawing all gun free zones as a violatiion of our rights to life and liberty from the tyrrany of mad men who ignore these obcenities of delusional thinking and that only empowers these maniacs to give them a free fire zone of defenseless citizens.

    These are the type of laws that would have made a difference, more freedom of the common citizen to practice thier G-d given rights.

    Freedom, that word that frightens so many people because it means you have to take responsibility for your life.

    • The existing system should have worked. The background check should have shown the restraining order, and he should have been prevented from buying a handgun. Actually, he should be arrested for trying to buy a gun right after that!

      Wait…scratch all that. That’s bullsht. He hasn’t lost his right to defend himself. That he was hours away from violating the rights of the salon patrons is irrelevant. Laws wouldn’t have stopped the man who stopped caring about laws. That was weird and easy to do, I sounded like a gun-grabber for a minute.

      +1 on outlawing gun free zones, I’m hoping some kind of legal precedent develops that bans that stupidity.

  5. I thought gun-rights activists were supposed to be in favor of greater liberty. Nothing says freedom like letting federal bureaucrats scrutinize the private transactions of consenting individuals.

    Edit: What’s up with the replies? This was meant for GaryinVT.

    • “I thought gun-rights activists were supposed to be in favor of greater liberty.”

      Just because gun-rights activists are in favor of gun-rights, it does not necessarily mean that they are in favor of greater liberty. Some are, some aren’t.

      Like liberals, gun-rights activists use the “liberty” card simply to rationalize their agenda; to others and to themselves.

  6. Given that restraining orders do almost nothing to stop violence and they can be and are used spitefully to disarm the non-violent, tell me again why this piece of paper should inhibit one’s ability to keep & bear. Take the guns out of the equation and this shooter could easily inflict the same amount of damage with an easily obtained machete from the hardware store. The only thing that would stop him is, wait for it…, an armed citizen. Require background checks for private sales? It is doubtful that the records would have been updated in time to prevent this sale.

    • I’ve seen firsthand how somebody with malicious intent can use restraining orders to harass people who don’t deserve it — and the news is full of incidents that show how little effect a restraining order has on really dangerous people.

      Using restraining orders as the sole basis for ordering anyone to give up their lawfully owned firearms would be a very bad idea.

      Preventing people with active restraining orders from buying new guns sounds reasonable, but in the end I don’t think it would be. It’d be a logistical nightmare, and far too many innocent people would get swept up in the net.

      The people who never meant to hurt anyone would abide by the rules, and the murderous minority would either hide a gun, steal one, or buy one under the table.

  7. Seems to me that rather than getting a Restraining order (aka a useless piece of paper) maybe it would be prudent to have a person like this arrested and locked up. And if a Judge is going to issue a RO, then the abuse-ee should be advised to carry a gun/mace/taser etc.

    I am not sure, but it seems like if there is enough reason to get a judge to grant a restraining order, there ought to be enough to have the man arrested.

    Maybe more employment of electronic monitoring bracelets (or ankle bracelets or whatever) would be useful. Try to take it off or Get within XXX yards of your abused spouse and the device sends out an alert that goes to the cops and to the estranged spouse with the restraining order.

    We also ought to examine the circumstances when Bail is granted. There was horrible incident here in Maine where a Genuine A$$hole by the name of Steven Lake murdered his wife and kids. He had previously Stated (to the whole wide world) that this was his intention. The cops, to their credit, did take his weapons away. This monster was given bail and sure enough once out on bail he procured a weapon and carried out his threat to murder his family.

    On the subject of background checks for all purchases…I dont have a problem with it but there are big issues with enforcement. There is no practical way to enforce the law which makes it all but useless. Also there is the issue of efficacy of the background check itself. We have recently seen lots of crazies that have passed these checks.

  8. Let us assume for the sake of argument that in Wisconsin, all legal gun purchases had to be run through an FFL as it does in California & New York. Haughton would still pass the Background Check to buy his handgun, and here’s why.

    I read a very enlightening report by the Justice Department on issues with the Brady Background Check system. One of its drawbacks according to the FBI is that the database will always lag behind incidents due to logistics. Not every police department in the country has the ability, staff , or time to send dozens of daily reports on crime to the FBI’s NICS center. Some police departments have backlogs on open “prohibited people” that go back *months* according to the report. There’s no way to solve this problem without hiring a literal army of cops across the country to collate, file, mail, and process these “prohibited incident” backlogs-and you’d have to employ this army of data processors indefinitely to keep ahead of new incidents.

    With those facts in mind, assuming the County Sheriff express mailed a copy of the DV report to the NICS office the day it got filed it would still be in transit to the NICS building when the shooting happened .Thanks to good ol’ bureaucracy ,even if someone shoots up a police station they’ll still clear a Brady check for up to a week after the crime. As such , this tragedy would have happened “gun show loophole” or no.

    • This plus about 8000.

      Someone, somewhere, actually enters information into various criminal and judicial databases. Officers, clerks, court personnel, etc. Those databases typically run weeks to months behind the relevant incidents. When a case is pending, there is not yet a conviction or a finding of guilt or in innocence. We work on an innocent until proven guilty system. Since there are a lot of pending guilty folks out there, I recommend packing heat.

    • Sure, Logistics is a problem.

      But there is a solution. In a word: Computers. Or, if your prefer, “automation”.

      Suppose you had a company like UPS or Wal-Mart running the background check. The minute a UPS driver drops off a package, they scan it with their portable gizmo, and that info goes into the system and there is real-time (or very near to it) updating within the system.

      The background check system could function in a similar manner. The Minute someone was picked up, charged, accused, whatever, that information would/could make it into the system and could be routed automatically to send an alert. Think of how much WM and your credit card company know about you. Think of how up-to-date their info management systems are.

      Imagine if a police officer filed a report electronically that read something like this:
      “Radcliffe Haughton picked up on charges of threatening, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and suspiscion of domestic violence.”

      The computer system records that report. Since the report involves a threat and domestic violence it gets put in a certain category. The system cross checks for other risk factors. Restraining order in effect…Check. Then the system has enough info to send out an instruction to NICS system: “If subject attempts to purchase guns, send alert to local PD and Spouse. Flag for further review”.

      Granted, this is not quite the same kind of logistics (efficient private company vs slow moving, low budget, fragmented local bureaucracy) but it certainly seems possible.

      • Its a nice system to be sure. But its impossible to implement, and here’s why. The problem is not merely technological in origin-WalMart and UPS staff their stores and shipping points with people whose *only* jobs are to track and account for products in transit, 8 hours a day and in some cases around the clock.

        Even the NYPD cant afford to hire thousands of police officers full time to maintain a logistics database tracking criminal case records and DV documents-and because we’re dealing with legal cases instead of products, accuracy is even more necessary than in UPS’s case.A lost package means UPS has an angry customer. A lost case file means a bad guy goes free. As such, to initiate what you propose would mean creating ANOTHER Federal Bureaucracy, the likes of which would make the current DHS look like Mayberry’s Public Works department. You’d have to spend billions on tech upgrades, staff to maintain the instant upgrade database, portable devices to upload case files, and hundreds of millions of dollars on payroll and data entry staff to keep the files updated, not to mention a great deal of cops now have ANOTHER data system they have to track like a hawk.

        Setting aside the horrific personal privacy implications of such a system ( what if a tired officer puts in the wrong name and red-flags a citizen by mistake? ) , we simply cannot afford it.The nation’s got enough money problems without dumping billions into a background check system that’s a proven failure at its primary mission.

    • ST for president.

      I would offer one more explanation: the government is simply not as efficient as private enterprise. To wit: you can go to Starbucks and get a decent cup of joe exactly the way you want it in 5 minutes. Try making a transaction that fast at a DMV.

      The solution is the same: pack heat.

  9. Whenever some d!ckhead shoots his gun, the gungrabbers then try to take away mine. You may think this makes no sense, but you’re wrong. Gungrabbers aren’t trying to keep us safe. They’re trying to keep us unsafe, and under control. In that context, it’s easy to understand the process.

  10. [sigh]
    Gun control: The theory that making it more difficult to obtain a gun legally will make it more difficult to obtain a gun illegally.

  11. It’s unfortunate that most of you know so little about Domestic violence laws. More often than not, a restraining order is only used to gain an upper hand during a Divorce. But as with all unconstitutional DV laws, they are for the most part just designed to harass men and make their lives miserable.

    And for the record, it comes as no surprise that the real violence came after the restraining order. Because that is almost always the case.

    Anyhow, I could not disagree more with some of the commenter’s that think people with restraining orders should have their guns confiscated. If someone is believed to be such a danger to others, then they belong behind bars. It’s that simple.

    Oh and just one more little tidbit for all of you pseudo freedom lovers. Quite often during a divorce when a restraining order is issued, it is met with a counter restraining order. Yeah that’s right, she would also have to forfeit her firearms and would be forbidden from purchasing one.

  12. On one hand, I want criminal and crazy person background checks done on a gun buyer. On the other hand, I know government does not delete the records check and has compiled a huge registry of gun owners which makes me uneasy since I don’t trust government not to try confiscating guns.

    There may also be cases when I do not support the government or court’s definition of what is a criminal or crazy person. For example, the latest US government (thanks to feminists) version of what domestic violence includes rolling one’s eyes at a spouse, ignoring a spouse, trying to ‘pressure’ or convince the spouse not to go visit their parents, etc. Really the definitions just keep getting weirder and weirder. I don’t think many local courts have yet convicted men (or women) of those charges and I wouldn’t consider such an offender a criminal or crazy just maybe or not a bit rude.

  13. Question: if the police failed to take his weapons away, that means he owned guns. So why would he need to buy another one?

  14. You guys are geting swept up in liberal talking points. If my life was threatened and I needed a gun now but it happened to be sunday I couldn’t get a gun because the background check phone call is closed sunday. And after 8 during the week. Here in Jersey it takes 2 months maybe to get the firearms license to buy a gun. Then to get a handgun purchase permit i need to wait almost 3 months minimum to get that. Let alone in my home town the town hall is open from 8 till 4 but for any gun business you can only come in Tuesday and Thursday 10 to 12 and 1 to 230. There’s common sense gun laws learn from NJ. If you admit you don’t have a right to a gun to The governmen your saying its a Privilege. And it isn’t easy getting rights back after you gave them away.

    • As it stands in NJ, there are more than a few statutes that clearly tell federally Ok’d things like the CMP, FOPA, and a C&R 03 FFL, to fvck off. People from other parts of the country driving through have been arrested merely for possessing a properly stored handgun that’s totally legal everywhere else in the country, but not NJ because it’s not on “the list” of registered handguns. It’s basically East Germany minus the wall.

  15. As tragic as this whole situation is, my one question is why didn’t she have a gun? If she knew how crazy this person was then why not protect yourself? A restraining order is just a piece of paper, not a super uber galactic shield.
    Based on the history of these two, the court ordered him to turn in his weapons. This isn’t some automatic law, but was a determination of the court which is a good thing. Unfortunately this order was not followed up on by law enforcement.
    So really this is a break down of law enforcement to not enforce a law and people died.
    I do understand about bogus restraining orders. My ex tried to get one put on me, but the judge threw it out. Basically it was bogus and she knew it. I wouldn’t hurt a fly unless I needed to and even her lawyer knew it. But for having said all that if it had been put in place it would have caused all sorts of issues.
    Here in CA all purchases go through an FFL dealer. This however doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge black market for guns. I don’t see it having stopped most of the violence that has occurred here. Despite all our crying out here on the left coast regarding the draconian gun laws, we are essentially a guinea pig for the rest of the country. Proof positive, strict gun laws don’t do jack…

  16. A couple of things:
    1) Though I want no association with the perpetrator, I do have to point out as a former Marine, there are no such thing as an ex-Marine.
    2) There is a distinct possibility that background checks during private sales could create a safety issue. Imagine you’re selling a firearm to someone who you believe is allowed to own one and then call it in and they aren’t allowed to purchase it. You could have them become aggressive and try to get the firearm anyways and could end up with them pulling a knife or gun and you having a DGU.

  17. ROs don’t protect those that apply for them, have little to no burden of proof and so can be used vindictively, and so amount to little more that a tool to harass and disarm. Had to be said.


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