Wednesday May 31, 2023

No, You Cannot Totally Prevent Gun Violence Related to Domestic Violence (or Any Crime)

I don’t talk about my past here much for many reasons. A couple of those reasons include:

  • I have C-PTSD from it.
  • I am a survivor of domestic violence.
  • Once the ex said on the phone he would emotionally and mentally “break” me. I am not broken and I don’t dwell much on what happened although I do talk about my experiences to bring it to light to others who may be going through it. (Curious why I write “the ex” instead of “my ex?” It’s about depersonalizing the abuse. You can read more about it here on my other blog.)

Yesterday’s mass shooting in Texas at a Baptist church has left me sad and almost unsure what to do with myself other than sit in shock and occasionally cry (to be fair, I’m also under the weather which means I’m much more sensitive than usual).

News reports have stated that the man shot up the church where his in-laws went and that he had two court martials for domestic violence against his wife and child. And people are somehow shocked that this dishonorably discharged man somehow had an AR-15.

If you’re shocked, you need to get your head out of the sand about criminals, domestic violence, and guns. 

What do we know about criminals? We know that they’re not exactly law biding citizens. I’m not saying that anyone who was charged with a crime in the past is forever a douchebag. I believe in second chances for people who try to get their shit together in many circumstances. So, while I realize that may be a broad generalization, it’s also important to note that time in prison / jail or even a criminal record can make people turn back to crime because they can’t find appropriate work. It can (not saying always) perpetuate a cycle (and I do not think that was the case with this asshole).

So, if they’re not allowed to legally own a gun, they’re still going to find a way to get one if they want one. And…depending on how old their last charge was, there’s a damn good chance no one from the court or law enforcement will check them or their home on a regular basis to ensure they’re abiding by the court order. Okay?

And, who’s to say that they got rid of their guns as they were ordered? Maybe they hid them at home since they knew no one would follow-up, at their mama’s, at their brother’s, or they knew a friend down on their luck who was looking to sell a gun. Hell, the seller probably didn’t know the full buying / selling process for their state and simply issued a “Bill of Sale” on the gun to their friend. Because, again, no one from court or law enforcement bothers to check them, their home, etc., on a regular basis for this shit.

How Do I Know?

A year or two after the ex left me for someone else (my mind sometimes blurs dates and I could just go check my court documents, but…that’s not the important part), I had to apply with the district court for a VPO (victim’s order of protection). I was being stalked, harassed, I’d been choked out, I’d had a gun put to my head, I’d had my head bashed into a washing machine, my laptop (with my first fledgling business) was destroyed, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I had a Domestic Violence advocate (and she was some of the best support I’d ever had).

But about a year before? My older children and I began attending a church in our time (yes, I am pagan…but I do believe in involving my children where it is good for them and had zero issue with the teachings of this particular church). My oldest son enjoyed Sunday School again (because donuts and “cool lessons”) and my middle son enjoyed not just the children’s activities but also enjoyed the scouting-style program offered by the church. To this day, the boy loves archery. I was involved in behind-the-scenes support type stuff for the scouting program and children’s church. I enjoyed both Sunday and Wednesday services. It was a denomination my aunt had taken me to as a child that was accepting and loving.

One night during a special service, the ex threatened to blow up the church (he came to the church) if I didn’t leave. Now, the pastor had a pretty good idea of what I was going through because I had talked to him a little…not in great detail.

I left that church and never returned because I was honestly afraid he would follow through on his threats and harm innocent people. The church also had a daycare in it.

Again, though, that happened about a year before I filed for a VPO.

The VPO was issued and the court (although I hadn’t requested it…because I was afraid of what would happen to me if I did) issued a court order for him to turn over his weapons. He had several guns. (Which isn’t necessarily uncommon for where we live…and it isn’t that I hate guns.)

That was in 2012, by the way. So, here we are five years later, right? Last year (2016) I had to go and renew the VPO again and he had notice, but didn’t show up. The judge renewed it for either three or five years and told me that she would continue to issue it for the rest of my life if I felt I needed it. My lawyer and I left and not long after that, we were served with paperwork (either a motion or an objection – again, I’d have to go downstairs and get my court papers which wouldn’t be a good idea today…) that he was trying to get it thrown out because he wasn’t served. He was served through his attorney, by the way. My attorney doesn’t babysit others. It’s not her job to babysit her professional colleagues who have their own assistants.

So, ultimately what happened when we went back to court again was that everything from the VPO was merged over into the divorce decree (post judgment amendment) with the exception of the guns…

But the four fucking years of 2012 through 2016? He had guns. The court and law enforcement never enforced the order. So, he had the guns he wasn’t supposed to have for that entire time according to his friends and family (word travels even if you don’t want to know).

And That’s How It Happens

The number of court orders and gun laws really don’t matter. And I hate to fucking say that because I am an advocate protective orders. No, they won’t save you….but that paper trail is very important. Even now, because he stalked me for so long, if something were to happen to me, people know where to start their search (and I hate to say that). But when law enforcement tells you to take it to court…and the court doesn’t send anyone to enforce an order, this shit happens.

You cannot pass enough laws or issue enough court orders to legislate people into abiding by the laws. You just can’t.

There’s no one solution for this. And that’s really sad. But prayers and thoughts? No. Believe people when they tell you they’re being abused. Believe them when they are scared. Society must step up and take real action. It shouldn’t rely on one dude who happened to be there when the shit went down to stop it. I am so glad he was there…I am…

But…society, we have to do better by all of us.

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