Gun Laws Brought Into Question by New Study


Gun laws are being brought into question a by new study, done by North Carolina’s Duke University. Most Americans believe that if a person is deemed dangerous to a specific person or themselves in a court, such individual may not possess firearms. However; only Connecticut, Indiana, and California allow law enforcement, under court order, to temporarily seize the firearms of someone the court deems immediately dangerous. This determination is based on the court agreeing with the testimony of people know him individual personally, or who are familiar with problematic behaviors the person has committed previously.

In the other 47 states, people who have committed violent misdemeanors or have restraining orders for domestic violence are allowed to own guns. Federal law only prohibits the ownership of guns by people who have been committed to a psychiatric hospital, or have been ruled in “mental defectives” in a court of law. Most of these people are not violent towards others. In fact, it is more likely that such persons will be victims of crime and not perpetrators.

However, those with temporary restraining orders are not, in most states, restricted from buying or owning firearms. This is despite the fact that if an abuser is going to lash out, the most likely time is between notification of court action and the hearing. The reason for these revenge attempts is due to the fact that domestic violence survivors have taken legal action and stood up to their abusers.

A new peer-reviewed study has emerged from Duke University, saying that one in 10 Americans may have an anger problem. Therefore, perhaps the nation should revisit its gun possession policy.

The Second Amendment does permit individuals to own firearms. No one is disputing that. One wonders, however, if the founding fathers truly would have been in favor of allowing a person who may be revenge minded quick access to a deadly weapon.

Once bullets are in a body the shooter cannot recall them, no matter how much they may wish to after the initial joy of vengeance has passed. Perhaps all parties in such matters would be better off, provided a court of law thought it appropriate and not over reaching, if law enforcement stepped in and removed one tool of execution from an accused abuser’s tool box.

Of course, any legal change cannot prevent every vindictive ex from seeking the ultimate payment from an abusee who finally sought help. That is not its purpose. People can and do murder others by methods as divergent as the kitchen knife and the pipe bomb. However, it might save a few lives since a jilted lover who has been issued a restraining order will not be able to simply grab grandpa’s Smith and Wesson and head out the door.

Perhaps those few extra moments that occur in an individual’s brain, during which time they need to think of an alternate plan, will make their brain triumph over their darker impulses. That hope, even if it only keeps one person from transitioning from abuse victim to homicide statistic, is why Americans need to question the old gun laws, especially in light of research like what just emerged from Duke.

Opinion by Martina Robinson


Mother Jones
Mental Health Reporting
New Haven Independent

Photo by Jimmy Smith  Flickr License

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