The gun debate and domestic violence

A controversial article pertains to two themes highlighted in Injury Prevention blogs this year – violence against women and gun ownership.

On March 17, the New York Times published the article “In Some States, Gun Rights Trump Orders of Protection”, with reporting contributed by Griff Palmer and research contributed by Kristen Millares Young and Jack Styczynski. The lengthy article cites a number of harrowing cases in which a person sought and obtained an order of protection, frequently advising authorities that the person from whom they were trying to be protected owned one or more guns. In these instances, the person served with the order either threatened, or actually attempted, to shoot the the protected. On occasion, unfortunately they succeeded in killing their ex-partner before taking their own lives. Alarmingly, children, extended family and friends have also been targetted.

I decided to highlight this story for a number of reasons further to the union of our two blogging-themes. As an Australian, ‘the right to bear arms’ fascinates me. Our society emerged through a different path and therefore such a ‘right’ is not ingrained in our culture. Also, the article was well-written and examined cases, legislation, and intervention programs from across the United States, not just within one jurisdiction. The evolution of law and arguments posed at each stage were reviewed. In addition, the article is realistic, highlighting that legislative change is not the only solution. We are all familiar with how fundamental the need for compliance – both enforced and voluntary – is for the efficacy of any legislation, irrespective of the legislated domain. Finally, the zealousness of the comments posted to the website. A number of posts argue that the article yet again persecuted men, and that rights should not be stripped before the violent threats and/or behaviours are verified in a court of law. I do agree that there are some persons who make unfounded claims, abusing the legal process when relationships fail. However, men are most often the perpetrators of violence against women, therefore the gender issue is moot. Waiting until the violent threats and/or behaviours are verified in a court of law may be too late, as many of the accused appeared to react strongly at the point of separation or serving of the order.

Read the article at

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