Victims of domestic violence deserve choices when it comes to self-defense. How can relying on a restraining order protect someone against attacks when it’s rendered useless outside of the courtroom? That piece of paper won’t protect a woman from an estranged husband or ex-boyfriend eager to cause harm. It can actually make her vulnerable to attack once again. Given this, law-abiding citizens who’ve been victimized should be given the opportunity for immediate access to concealed handgun permits (CHP) here in Virginia.
Two bills sitting on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk — House Bill 1852 and Senate Bill 1299 — would make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves. If signed into law, these bills would allow anyone seeking a protective order to temporarily carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Virginia already allows law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm openly without a permit. The bill would protect a woman from criminal prosecution if she placed her handgun in her purse or under a jacket. It just makes sense.
In Virginia, a person seeking to carry a concealed handgun must get a state-issued permit. The process requires submitting an application to your local circuit court, paying a $50 fee and consenting to a background check. Under Virginia law, the state has up to 45 days to process a CHP application. That waiting period is often too long for victims of domestic abuse.
In March 2014 a 43-year-old mother of five in Loudoun County, Michelle Castillo, was found murdered in her home, allegedly at the hands of her estranged husband. Last April, a Leesburg mother of three, Christina Fisher, was shot to death at her home, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Last November in Big Stone Gap, 38-year-old Janina Jefferson was allegedly murdered by her ex-husband. What do these three cases have in common? The murdered women each had a restraining order against the men who allegedly killed them. All three women might be alive today if they had been able to protect themselves with a concealed handgun.
Opponents of these bills often cite a study claiming victims of domestic abuse are five times more likely to die in domestic violence situations when a gun is present. What they don’t tell you is that this study relies on what they call a “knowledgeable proxy” to answer questions about the deceased woman’s killer, such as “did the husband do drugs” or “have access to a gun.” Self-reporting for studies is notoriously unreliable. But asking a “knowledgeable proxy” isn’t actual evidence, it’s guesswork. One fact that is not up for argument: 70 percent of the women studied were killed by the same intimate partner who had abused them. The truth is: Victims of domestic abuse will fare better — and live — if they are afforded every opportunity to defend themselves.
McAuliffe has until March 27 to act. If he wants a good legacy he should sign both SB1299 and HB1852 into law to ease the CHP application process for victims of domestic abuse. By eliminating the 45-day processing period a woman now faces, she could protect herself from the day she gets a protective order.
Firearms are the great equalizer. They allow a woman, regardless of her size, to effectively defend herself from a much larger and stronger attacker. These reforms must be implemented to ensure women in Virginia have a fighting chance against domestic abusers hell-bent on murder.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as an op-ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch. I would like to add that all gun controllers and progressive politicians are doing is subsidizing domestic violence and rapists by ensuring that the victims of these crimes are unable to defend themselves. Why gun controllers and liberals think it is better for women to be beaten or raped instead of taking a gun and shooting their attacker is beyond me. Their mindset is as disgusting to me as is the domestic violence perpetrators and the rapists they protect.
Gabrielle is a media strategist and consultant as well as being a Bullets First contributor. You can read more about her exploits and adventures at her home site: gabriellahoffman.com
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