On display: Gun control laws fail to stop violent domestic offenders

In a recent Columbus Dispatch article entitled "Many loopholes in domestic-violence gun law," Whitehall Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson asks why a man with a history of domestic violence who killed his wife and children in a murder-suicide had three guns, and whether communities could do more to prevent domestic violence.

It's worth asking, because the fact that this ex-con was in possession of firearms proves once again that gun control laws are useless when it comes to disarming a violent person intent on harming others.

From the story:

Meeks had been convicted of assaulting his ex-wife in 1993, which should have barred him from possessing a gun under federal law.

"Was there any way the system failed this family?" she asked fellow council members. "How do we get guns out of households with domestic violence?"

She raised the issue just after Councilman Wesley Kantor was arrested on charges of domestic violence and assault a week ago.

But her main goal - to get guns out of the homes of domestic-violence offenders - is riddled with challenges, lawyers and police say. For one thing, the only way to know if an offender has guns is if someone turns him in.

"You can put the laws out there, but unless we have a police state, you can't enforce everything," said Lara Baker, chief prosecutor for the Columbus city attorney's office. "We can say they're legally prohibited, but it's like underage drinking."

This is an amazing admission, coming from a city whose leaders are more typically known for claiming more and more gun control laws are the answer.

The Dispatch then cites a statistic that "about 30 percent to 40 percent of gun transactions are private sales that don't require background checks." If the author was hoping to imply that doing background checks on all private sales would solve the problem of criminals getting guns, she undercut that argument too, by providing several examples of how the government has failed to make use of the information they already have in order to prevent violent criminals from obtaining firearms.

If communities really want to "do more to prevent domestic violence", as Councilwoman Thompson indicates, then writing more useless laws prohibiting gun ownership is not the answer.

Again, from the story:

"It's a challenging situation," said Phyllis Carlson-Riehm, executive director of the Action Ohio Coalition for Battered Women. "Our constitution guarantees the right to own guns, but studies indicate having a weapon increases the risk to battered victims."

Studies have also found that resisting without a weapon is more dangerous than resisting with a gun. Criminologist Gary Kleck of Florida State University found that "robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist [this does not mean the gun was fired] were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all" (Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, 1991; also see his updated 1997 book).

And with all respect due to Ms. Carlson-Riehm, whether or not "having a weapon increases the risk to battered victims" really depends on who has the weapon, doesn't it?

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