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Monday, March 18, 2013

You can stop pretending that guns protect women now

New York Times:

Early last year, after a series of frightening encounters with her former husband, Stephanie Holten went to court in Spokane, Wash., to obtain a temporary order for protection.

Her former husband, Corey Holten, threatened to put a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger, she wrote in her petition. He also said he would “put a cap” in her if her new boyfriend “gets near my kids.” In neat block letters she wrote, “ He owns guns, I am scared.”

The judge’s order prohibited Mr. Holten from going within two blocks of his former wife’s home and imposed a number of other restrictions. What it did not require him to do was surrender his guns.

About 12 hours after he was served with the order, Mr. Holten was lying in wait when his former wife returned home from a date with their two children in tow. Armed with a small semiautomatic rifle bought several months before, he stepped out of his car and thrust the muzzle into her chest. He directed her inside the house, yelling that he was going to kill her.

What saved Holten was not another gun, but a phone. She dial 911, then hid the phone. “The dispatcher heard Ms. Holten begging for her life and quickly directed officers to the scene,” the report tells us.

“For all its rage and terror, the episode might well have been prevented,” NYT goes on. “Had Mr. Holten lived in one of a handful of states, the protection order would have forced him to relinquish his firearms. But that is not the case in Washington and most of the country, in large part because of the influence of the National Rifle Association and its allies.”

I know that the insane and the NRA (I realize I’m being redundant) would argue that Stephanie Holten would’ve been better off had she been armed too. But exchanging gunfire with a lunatic does not guarantee success. And since her kids were present, tragedy would be all that more likely. Gun fanatics live in a fantasy world, informed by action movies, where the “good guy” always comes out on top. But in the real world, criminals aren’t automatically incompetent. Justice is a human construct, not a law of physics. In a gun v. gun confrontation, either party can lose. This is why people with guns are more likely to be shot — if I’m a criminal and someone pulls a gun on me, they’re my primary target. And of course, belief in the “good guys always win” theory promoted by the NRA causes people to take stupid risks.

The fact is that there are people who should not have guns. More guns is not the answer here, fewer guns obviously are. There are situations — and this is one — where meeting the NRA’s definition of “pro-gun” is in reality just pro-crime. Cory Holton is obviously scum. He can live without his guns.

And his ex-wife and kids would stand a better chance of living as well. A woman’s chance of being killed by an abuser increases by 700% if he has access to a firearm. That’s just a fact. And it’s a fact the NRA doesn’t want you to know, because they want to be able to sell guns and ammo to criminals like Stephanie Holton’s stalking, abusive ex-husband.

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