“Second Amendment Rights Empower Women’s Rights”

(from llouislinal1999.blogspot.com)
(from llouislinal1999.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, December 12, 2:00 pm. I was watching the federal House Judiciary Committee on domestic violence and firearms, it’s title also being this piece’s. It is so frustrating hearing politicians talking over and around each other, hearing witnesses avoid responding to the fair points made by the other side and misusing statistics to confuse issues. DRGO is absolutely on the side of assuring the right of victims to arm themselves in self-defense, but there is more to it.

Democrats and their witnesses clearly detest the natural right every individual has (even, gasp, women!) to defend themselves however necessary against threats, including from intimate partners. Republicans tiptoe around the risks victims undergo in living with an abuser by focusing on the need to lock up violent offenders, as if that is any more helpful to a potential victim before an assault than is a restraining order afterward. At least, their emphasis on protecting Second Amendment rights is appreciated.

Let’s take this one side at a time (and accept the stereotype of the male abusing the female). The left, who hyperfocus on guns as the problem, won’t discuss the necessity of stronger law enforcement, prosecution and sentencing of violent offenders, who constitute a good portion of domestic abusers and are likely to reoffend. Violent behavior begets more violent behavior.

Their claim that “women are 5 times as likely to be killed” if a gun is in the household is not untrue. I would never advise an abused woman to bring a gun into a home she shares with her abuser. He is stronger, more aggressive, and already inclined to hurt her. The potential for him to use her gun against her is significant.

The best advice is for her to flee, right now, and not look back. There are women’s shelters in every city for refuge, even with children.

Thinking it will get better by trying to be nicer and avoid triggering the abuser is the road to disaster. These victims are acting responsible for their abusers’ actions. Relying on an abuser for financial support is a way to become more dependent. Staying with an abuser “for the children” is a recipe for raising future adults who see abuse as normal behavior.

But once she’s out it’s a far different story. What the left refuses to acknowledge is that 75% of women killed by their abusers are murdered after they’ve left. Once she is in her own space, her very first step absolutely should be to arm herself. Then she has the initiative. A piece of paper will do nothing to stop an enraged, hurt, more powerful man from attacking her. Leaving, while lifesaving, often further antagonizes a man with such an unhealthy ego that he is likely to pursue her in order to keep from falling apart himself. She is on her own, but with a gun she literally has a fighting chance.

Laws that delay her obtaining the means of self-defense are have been tragic. Put another way, gun control kills.

On the right, our rational focus on preventing any incremental step down the slippery slope of gun confiscation can’t be the whole agenda. The great danger women face by staying with an abuser has to be acknowledged, especially with weapons around. Again, it is never smart to present one’s abuser with an opportunity to use your own firearm. He will take it away, given a chance. Abused women stay because they are by definition subservient partners, so the presence of weapons increases their danger.

Breaking that cycle of passivity matters the most. Upon escaping, besides arming herself, obtaining a restraining order is still a good thing. It documents the abuse and enables stronger intervention with further approaches. With adequate evidence, criminal charges can be initiated, and the abuser can be arrested and even incarcerated.

A judge can not only mandate separation but also removal of weapons if indicated. It does not require a Red Flag Law—those just enable a raft of people indirectly involved to complain and potentially ruin someone’s life. Yes, angry women have retaliated by falsely seeking orders of protection. But a court’s normal process does incorporate due process, which is absent in nearly all Red Flag actions.

The minority several times raised the question of whether someone “convicted of domestic violence” ought to have firearms afterward. The majority witnesses (one of whom is a friend of mine) missed the opportunity to say “Yes, but . . .” probably out of fear of being cut off and misquoted by people for whom that is a stock in trade.

No, “being convicted of a violent crime” (e.g., knocking over a bystander trying to escape when shoplifting, hitting someone—even perhaps one’s wife) should not necessarily cause the revocation of Second Amendment (or other) rights for life. Certainly, an ambiguous episode of “he said, she said” must not.

However, upon a conviction for a violent crime, the right to possession of firearms should be on the table depending on the severity of the crime and the likelihood of further violence. A judge has the extremely difficult job of having to make reasonable predictions about future behavior (something no one is fully reliable doing). But a pattern of offending and reoffending, and a pattern of violence beyond minor fights, should raise huge (small letter) red flags and definitely ought to affect the penalties incurred—with due process.

Fortunately, we are seeing more cases successfully argued to restore wrongful deprivation of the right to keep and bear firearms. These may eventually lead, based on McDonald, Heller and Bruen, to defining limits on the proper causes to deprive adjudicated criminals of such rights and perhaps criteria for restoring those later.

The “conversation” about how to make individuals and society safer is becoming less and less constructive, with increasing inability to really listen to one other. We all want to reduce the incidence of violence and make life safer for all. The real problems are almost all self-evident, but our elected officials still seem more interested in making points and mouthing campaign sound bites than in working together to enact true “common sense” solutions that are all but staring them in the face.

If you’d like to watch the show, it’s archived on YouTube.



Robert B Young, MD

— DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

All DRGO articles by Robert B. Young, MD