Friday, May 13, 2005

Who can defend you from harm?

Lady JusticeI have been writing about restraining orders and orders of protection and how they fail time and again to restrain anything or protect anyone.

When someone is abused, the first thing they are told to do is get a restraining order or an order of protection. Unfortunately, in too many cases, this is also the last thing they are told to do. Women need to understand that restraining orders are just pieces of paper, and they will not protect you from anyone bent on doing you harm. You must take action to protect yourself.

Consider the case of the man arrested 7 times for violating a restraining order was to be sentenced to 30 days, before another attack voided the plea deal. He will be out in 2 years, and just as violent. 7 violations of a restraining order and he was to get 30 days? Some protection. Even 2 years is not much protection.

A man kills his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. A court order did not restrain him. He was out of jail after an attack on her the Sunday before.... out on bail after an attack in violation of a restraining order. What protection did it offer?

Or the case of the guy charged 6 times in 5 months, and still never had his "day in court." He didn't kill his ex, he killed her boyfriend, and then killed himself. The criminal justice system still failed to work. He was clearly a threat, he had violated court orders, but the DA's office hadn't bothered to do anything about it.

Occasionally there are stories of women who defend themselves. Angela Scott shot Robert McDowell after he broke into her home to attack her yet again. Or the case of Joy Burgess who shot her ex-husband as he broke into her house in violation of an existing protection order, which he had violated many times. The criminal justice system did not protect these women; they protected themselves.

I actually believe that restraining or protection orders keep many people from taking action to protect themselves. They believe the system is doing something. They believe that the police will take care of it. Too many actors within the criminal justice system refuse to admit they cannot control these abusers. Some will admit it. Volusia County Florida Sheriff Ben Johnson stated recently, "An injunction is fine for someone who is willing to accept the rules. ... When someone is bound and determined they are going to do a criminal act, it is hard to stop it." That is, it is hard for the criminal justice system to stop it. The criminal justice system is limited to acting after a crime has been committed. (As it should be!) The only one who can protect you in the heat of the moment, when you are in imminent danger, is yourself.

snubbieThis is the message that the gun grabbers do not want you to hear. John Kerry went duck hunting because he wants you to believe that the Second Amendment is about hunting. People today by and large don't care about hunting, so this was merely a ploy to get you to not care about the Second Amendment. But the Second Amendment is not about hunting, or not only about hunting. Part of the reason - part, not all of the reason - for the Second Amendment is that we all have a right to defend ourselves. As the 2nd Amendment Sisters say, "Self defense is a basic human right." The police cannot always protect you. It is just not possible for them to be everywhere they are needed or to respond fast enough to a call for help. And as Dr. Rice noted recently, sometimes the police will not protect you even if they can.

There are of course no guarantees that possessing a firearm will keep you safe. There are no guarantees in life. Wearing a seatbelt will not guarantee you won't be harmed in a car crash; it will only change the odds of injury. Yet we wear seatbelts. Without the right to keep and bear arms, the weak are at the mercy of the strong. The old will be vulnerable to attack by the young. A single person will be easy prey for 2 or more violent criminals. Without the means to defend ourselves from the violent members of society, we would become prisoners in our own homes. And as so many of these cases about restraining orders demonstrate, we would not be safe in those homes.

The criminal justice system, even when it works perfectly - and nothing that relies on human beings ever works perfectly - cannot protect you against someone determined to do you harm. Only you can defend yourself from harm.

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