Ravenwood - 02/09/05 07:00 AM
As a gun rights advocate, it should come as no surprise that I find restraining orders to be a bit lacking. Anyone who would look to a paper decree from the state to ward off someone whom they fear is a genuine threat, must be living in some sort of fantasy world. Given that there is no real deterrent behind this sort of paper protection, I liken it to the old joke of yelling "Stop, or I'll say stop again."
But it has occurred to me that restraining orders could be useful, if they were given the proper muscle to back them up. Currently if you have someone under a restraining order, your only recourse is to call the police when it is violated. They will come over and baby-sit for 15 minutes and then leave you alone once again to fend for yourself. If this becomes too much of a habit, (in other words, after 15 times the guy hasn't killed you yet) they'll round up the perp and throw him in the pokey. Of course the great irony is that if all he is doing is making empty threats, he may not be the danger you thought he was.
But I digress. What I propose is that when a judge issues a restraining order, it should do more to protect the law-abiding citizen than it does to rein in the rights of the accused. Right now a restraining order says your ex-boyfriend is not allowed to come near you, not allowed to buy a gun, not allowed to approach you in any way. I propose to add to that, protections and privileges for what a law-abiding citizen may do without fear of reprisal.
Under this new Paper Protection Reform Act, a restraining order would restore the basic firearms rights of anyone it protects. Once the judge signs off on it, it would become a defacto gun license for both purchasing and carrying. Of course in states like Virginia it's not really necessary, but in gun control havens like Chicago, New York, or Washington D.C., it would prevent the government from preventing you from protecting yourself. When the judge grants the restraining order, you should be able to purchase and carry a gun (should you choose to do so) without fear of prosecution from the state.
Now obviously I feel you should always be able to purchase and carry a gun, but some localities would rather have disarmed victims. This would protect a person from not just their ex-boyfriend, but the city of Chicago, who might be so inclined as to prosecute you for trying to watch out for number one.
Ideally, it would also be universal. Even in right to carry states there are plenty of places that are deemed off limits. Places like schools, churches, and restaurants are sometimes considered 'gun-free zones' in a misguided attempt to keep people 'safe'. Under the Paper Protection Reform Act, a divorcee would no longer need to fear her ex-husband when she is picking up her daughter from school.
Now of course I don't expect everyone who gets a restraining order to run out and get a gun, and start carrying it around. But if enough people did, and if that possibility was always there (no matter where you live, work, or play), bad guys might start to think twice before they violate the order. And that would put real deterrence behind what is now just paper protection.
UPDATE: Changed proposal to Paper Protection Reform Act on 10/06/08 to eliminate confusion with Ravenwood's Law.
Brilliant idea, but shouldn't we also add a rebuttable presumption of justified defense should the person with the restraining order have to actually, you know, use the gun.
What good is having a gun in DC or NJ if the simple fact of firing it in your defense will get you in more hot water than the mere possession of it.
I had thought that was implied. But apparently you are more intuned with thinking like a gun grabber and looking for loopholes to exploit.
Eminently practical, beautiful in it's simplicity. This gives it no chance in the real world.
I call bullshit here. I have an outstanding "domestic violence" restraining order against me right now and I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING violent. The ex-wife just picked up the phone and told the sheriff that she felt "threatened." She "FELT" threatened.
She didn't have to prove anything and I am legally a criminal now. I can't see my son and I can't go anywhere near her. I ALSO had to get rid of all my guns, just because that's the LAW.
Find yourself in MY position and you may change your mind.
I'm just saying that if there is enough of a threat to issue a restraining order, there is also enough of a threat to override all those silly gun control laws.
And in situations like your's Ravenwood's Law would still work beautifully.
First of all, it raises the threshold required for restraining orders by default. Because it grants certain privileges (actually restores their right) to the complaintant, the Judge would be more apt to seriously consider the charges. They already hate the idea of allowing mere citizens to carry guns for their own defense. This forces them to weigh the allegations seriously before signing off on the order.
Second, by merely giving the complaintant the privilege of carrying a gun (actually restoring their 2A right), the rights of the accused are not really violated. I'm not saying that she should have the right to shoot you if you come around the house. I'm just saying that if there is enough of a threat to issue a restraining order, there is also enough of a threat to override all those silly gun control laws.
Third, (and I deliberately left this part out out of sheer sneakiness and the stealth that my agenda requires), it takes a step toward the ultimate goal of getting rid of restraining orders altogether. Let's face it, they don't work as implemented now and are fundamentally unConstitutional. Your basic human rights are being violated because of the allegations made by someone else. There is no burden of proof or due process required. What I would do is put real muscle behind the protective order (for where it is truly needed), and follow that up with subsequent legislation that eliminates the ability of judges to take away civil rights of the accused based on mere allegation.
That is, this is the first step toward eliminating the part where they say the accused can't do this, that, and the other thing.
Does that make any sense?
The best site for information about restraining order, domestic violence and family law abuse is the Equal Justice Foundation (http://www.ejfi.org/).
I have to go with AcidMan here. Since a restraining order has no due process attached with it (as you say), it is a highly abused system. Some woman take out unjustifiable retraining orders to punish their former husband. If he owns a gun or a collection, he is REQUIRED to get rid of them or have them siezed. No you can't give them to a friend to hold until later.
And when the restraining order is finally gone, you have that big mark on your record which will make it highly unlikely you'll ever be able to get a gun again.
I understand fully the need for protections for those experiencing domestic violence, but the level that it is taken too, with no due process, only ensures that abuse of the system will continue. Without an extreme make over of the system, I think your proposal would require someone to premptively seek a restraining order to ensure that they aren't the ones left defenseless. Never mind that if the whacko gets the restraining order first, they'll be guarenteed a gun and you'll be guarenteed to be vulnerable.
The start should be the requirement of due process. Then make an allowance for armed defence when the order is approved. The present premptive punishment is so painfully bent against the husband that there is no likelihood that they will evern not be the one punished by this law.
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