Guns for Domestic Violence Accusers in Kentucky

Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader has recently reported:

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Domestic violence victims in Kentucky could gain quick access to temporary concealed weapons permits under a bill that passed the House after emotional debate Friday.Abuse victims receiving court-issued protective orders meant to keep their assailants away would be eligible for the 45-day concealed carry permits. Supporters said the short-term permits would provide a measure of self-protection at a time when victims can feel most vulnerable.

…The bill [House Bill 351] cleared the House on a 79-13 vote. It goes to the Senate, which is considering similar legislation.

House Bill 351 is hardly a “gun-control” measure. Far from it. Nor can it credibly be called a measure to “prevent violence.” Indeed, this may be the first case in US history where guns and domestic violence have been addressed together by a legislature in the sense of arming alleged victims rather than dis-arming alleged abusers. It strains credulity to see this as a means to less violence, or as a path to the safer presence of guns.

The contingencies of how this law will affect both guns and violence in Kentucky are almost too numerous to list. But it makes for strange bedfellows to imagine the largely campus-feminist, anti-patriarchy DV professions, and the flag-waving, God & country gun rights community, actually working in common to reduce domestic violence by means of a kind of State-sanctioned vigilantism, to transform an individual’s unproven status of victimhood into an armed sentry-post on the front lines in the fight against domestic violence.

So many nightmare scenarios arise, it is hard to know which ones to highlight:

  • Most obvious is the urging of inexperienced weapons handlers into a belief that “a gatt in the hand means the world by the tail” (spoken by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep). The inherent threats to bystanders, children, family members, police, and shooters themselves, are familiar to anyone with basic firearms knowledge.

  • As protective orders are not criminal convictions, innocent people may well be gunned down with the State’s pre-approval, never having been arrested, indicted, tried or convicted for anything, nor any evidence having arisen other than one person’s hearsay that any crime had ever occurred at all.

  • The strain on service providers is potentially enormous: shelter employees, attorneys, counselors, educators, social workers, transitional housing management, medical staff, truly anyone in contact with the one under the Court’s protection, now faces the unknown of whether their client is armed or not, and what may ensue in their presence if she or he is.

  • Protective orders, once a crime-prevention tool, have morphed into a crime-entrapment device by prosecutors who know they cannot convict on DV charges lacking evidence, and who use the orders to ensure that almost anything the party named in the order does (going home, seeing his children, shopping in the same store, earning a living in the same workplace, etc.) is potentially a new crime that a jury indeed can convict on. This measure now recruits the protected party, not only to presume a threat by someone they may well have already made homeless, childless and unemployable, but further to respond to that threat with lethal force and be assured in advance of impunity. (See: “Criminal Law Comes Home” by Jeannie Suk)

  • Domestic violence intervention tends largely to be geared toward a presumption that “the vast majority of victims are women.” Even if this utter myth were true, what of the male “minority?” Men presumably may seek this same protective device of a court order plus a concealed-carry status, but is society prepared for men gunning down women with the State’s approval, and thereupon acquitted of (or never charged with) criminal actions by the State? Could any effort being made for better provisions serving male victims of DV ever recover from even one such occurrence?

  • The potential for judges, prosecutors and even the State government being held as accessories to violent crimes, or respondents to wrongful-injury or -death suits, is uncharted territory. If a shooting occurs under these conditions and the evidence says the shooter was in no immediate danger at the time, will the court that gave essential permission to fire upon a named individual then reverse itself and find the shooter guilty of a crime, or will it protect its own interests by letting her/him walk regardless of the evidence?

The possibilities of horror, bloodshed, legal quagmire and programmatic dysfunction seem not to have even been considered at all. This measure is pure politics, showing an unholy alliance of incompatibly opposed factions whose agendas scarcely bear the potential for common ground:

  • The gun industries see a market largely among women while gun-rights supporters see free advertising for the “armed populace” mindset;
  • DV professionals see a radically new “by any means necessary” approach to victim protection, targeting predominantly men, which they may or may not be prepared to deal with but apparently have decided to embark on. Lost in the political glare is how this flies in the face of their own historic position that guns bring violence, and that controlling guns means controlling violence.

Aside from a political puzzle of just who, in this bizarre bi-partisan drive toward anarchy and vigilantism, has hustled whom, one wonders how long it will take before an increase in violence, an increase in gun crimes, an increase in the kinds of vendettas and feuds and mutually-abusive households that so often are at the root of the abuses, become the motives for this same macabre and reckless coalition to try and undo the harm it is about to do.

Further reading & discussion:
Kentucky: trading DV allegations for guns

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