THE STATE OF MISSOURI GETS AN “F” WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING WOMEN FROM BEING SHOT BY THEIR ABUSIVE HUSBANDS
How many times have we heard this story: a woman gets an Order of Protection against her abusive husband which excludes him from the house and orders that he not come near her. Then, a few days after the order is handed down by the judge, the guy goes to her home, work or her mother’s house and shoots her.
This happens all too often in Missouri, where our legislators think it is more important to protect a man’s right to be able to bag that deer during hunting season than it is to protect a woman’s right not to be shot.
When a person gets an Order of Protection again their spouse or intimate partner, a federal law kicks in that says that the person against whom there is an Order of Protection cannot possess or purchase any firearms for the duration of the time that the Order of Protection is in force. This is governed by 18 USC §922(g)(8).
Makes sense, right? If the guy is violent and a threat or danger to the woman, he shouldn’t have a gun that he can use to shoot her.
Unfortunately it is up to the states to enforce this Federal Statute. The State of Missouri drops the ball on this in a big way. Other states do as well, as evidenced by the recent mass shooting in California by a man with an active Order of Protection against him.
The problem isn’t so much with a guy going and buying a gun, hopefully the Order of Protection finds its way into the fed’s database so that a gun store will reject his purchase (although a recent news story shows us that this is not happening as it should either). The biggest problem is with the guns that the guy likely already owns. The federal statute says that the person cannot own or possess firearms for the duration of the Order or Protection. The perpetrator is supposed to turn them in to a police station or show proof that they have sold them.
Unfortunately this is done under the honor system. The shooter in California turned in a few of his guns but kept the others. No one went into the database to see what guns this guy had and to account for all of them. If the guy is abusing his wife can he really be trusted to follow a law that no one is checking back on? No one is checking in Missouri either, and police will not go to the abuser’s home to seize guns not handed in. If a gun is found during a traffic stop the police will make an arrest for violation of the Order of Protection but this is the most they will do.
The Missouri legislature will say that there are not enough resources for the police to go to people’s houses to seize guns. But in reality the NRA-controlled legislature just doesn’t really care. As far as they are concerned, the man’s “need” to have his gun during hunting season is just too important.
Is there anything we can do about this? Yes, we can fix this problem by a vote for a state legislator that will consider this to be a problem and draft some legislation that can address this serious issue. We can become part of one of the grass roots organizations that have been created to address and legislate some kind of meaningful gun control, like Everytown for Gun Safety (everytown.org), a movement of Americans fighting for common sense reforms to reduce gun violence.
This is one of the things that we, as Americans, can affect, we all just have to stand up to the NRA and set out to eliminate the legislators that the NRA has been able to control.