Common sense should dictate that a person convicted of domestic violence shouldn’t have a gun.
If someone is under a restraining order for stalking, they shouldn’t possess a gun. Or if they are known to police and family members as a violent abuser, or are severely mentally ill and threatening to do harm, they shouldn’t have a gun.
But that’s not guaranteed. Not in Missouri and not in Kansas.
So the bipartisan team of Reps. Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills and Stacey Newman of Richmond Heights, Mo., have introduced legislation to give police the leverage to temporarily remove guns in some extreme circumstances with a court order. The proposals will be discussed Friday afternoon at a news conference in the office of Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County prosecutor.
Mention “gun” and “confiscate” in the same sentence and the gun lobby is sure to awaken. This is where people concerned about domestic violence need to be vocal. Neither state legislature is likely to pass these laws allowing for 14-day gun violence restraining orders without massive public support.
Because the way gun laws are currently written in Missouri and Kansas, the right to own a gun too often supersedes a woman’s right to safety. Given the lengths that legislators have gone to expand gun rights, the bills will face the obstacles of ignorance and patriarchal dismissal.
A gun is a powerful tool of intimidation. Abusers don’t even have to fire it. It’s often left on a kitchen table, on the nightstand, within easy reach. Common threats hurled: “I’ll kill you, the children, myself if you (leave, speak, dare to even move).”
Since 2009, Kansas City police have been using a checklist to determine the threat level a domestic violence victim is facing, said Susan Miller, CEO of the Rose Brooks Center. In half of the more than 9,000 cases where the assessment was done, a gun was present. Yet police had no legal right to even temporarily remove it from the abuser’s reach.
Domestic violence cases often do not rise to the level of a felony conviction that might trigger federal laws banning the abuser from purchasing a gun. And even when they do, that doesn’t mean those convicted have to give up guns they already own.
Clearly, there are constitutional concerns to address. But law enforcement is behind this effort. The prosecutor’s office is supportive, and domestic violence victims need the protection.
The only unknown is if the general public cares enough.