Public Comment

When Restraining Orders Fail: Arm the Women!

By Gar Smith
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:10:00 PM

On March 23, 2013, 29-year-old Sandra Cruzes-Gonsalez was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Juan Ramirez.

Police officers responding to phone calls found the victim lying in the parking lot of her San Jose apartment complex. She died in a nearby hospital from multiple stab wounds.

What struck me about the story was this line: "The victim had an active restraining order against the suspect at the time of the homicide, according to police."

How many times have we read or heard of women dying at the hands of angry ex-boyfriends/husbands who had been placed under a "restraining order"?

In this case, as in too many others, the restraining order offered little to no protection for the individual under threat.

Perhaps it's time to consider a different approach. 

We are constantly told that American citizens need handguns for "self-protection." The statistics, however, establish that most weapons are fired in attacks on targeted victims or to commit suicide. Cases of American citizens successfully using a handgun (or, God forbid, an assault rifle) to defend themselves against an attacker are vanishingly rare. 

But, opposed as I am to the proliferation of handguns in America, there may be one case in which the argument deserves a serious hearing. Perhaps it's time to apply some lead-jacketed teeth to enforce restraining orders. 

The proposal: every time a court approves a restraining order to protect a woman from an abusive male, the victim –- if she so chooses -- will be issued a free handgun and ammo. The loan of the weapon would require a course in weapons training (which would also be offered free-of-charge). 

In the future, such "enhanced" restraining orders would clearly empower the woman to "shoot-to-kill" whenever a restrainee violated the court order to stay a proscribed distance from the person granted the promise of protection. A woman would not only be issued a weapon but she would be implicitly granted the right to fire it— legally and with lethal intent— without fear of subsequent criminal prosecution. 

This would provide otherwise aggressive exes with a powerful argument against engaging in stalking behavior or physical confrontations. 

Allowing victimized women to exercise "stand your ground" powers in the event of an imminent attack should significantly reduce the number of cases in which women wind up dead after the failed "threat" of a retraining order. 

Of course, the police (wisely) are typically opposed to the idea of putting more weapons in the hands of the public. Police departments know only too well that guns are mainly employed to injure and kill, not to defend. 

If the local police departments refuse to offer free guns and weapons training to endangered women, there is another recourse. 

The National Rifle Association needs to step up to the plate. As the leading voice for "gun freedom"—and one of the wealthiest lobbies in the US— the NRA can well-afford to match its rhetoric with action. 

Let the NRA match its deeds with words by demanding that it promise free guns to any women who can win a restraining order because she is threatened by a violent male. And let the NRA provide the bullets and weapons training. 

The gun industry (which has made a big point of marketing pink-colored "fashion pistols" to women) should also step forward with offers of free "loaners" to permit America's threatened women to fully exercise their "Constitutional right to self-defense." 

My only concern is that accidents can happen -- even when guns are in the hands of the best-trained and most-deserving citizen. 

It's still possible that a frightened victim might over-react. There could be cases where a paranoid victim might open fire on a FedEx employee trying to make a delivery on her front porch. But there are remedies for these new, yet-to-be-explored situations. 

In this case, anyone under a restraining order could be issued a window poster clearly noting the "stay-away" order. The poster could include a photograph of the individual who poses a threat. (This would allow watchful neighbors to alert the police if that individual was spotted in the neighborhood.) 

And any FedEx worker who spotted one of these window posters, would be well-advised to call before making a delivery—or don a FedEx-issued bulletproof vest. 

Until now, "restraining orders" have proven to be little more than a joke. It's time to get serious. 

In most cases, it is difficult to predict criminal behavior because it is typically random in nature. In the case of domestic (and date) violence, however, the possibility of imminent future threat is both provable and palpable. 

Perhaps it's time to explore the "pre-crime" strategy of arming women from men who are under orders to keep their distance. 

I'm tired of reading about women dying at the hands of angry men. If we believe that guns are really the best means of self-defense, let's put this theory to a test: Arm the women!