Rep. Bob Hagan's gun control bill exposes impotence of "protection orders" and need for victim education

by Chad D. Baus

State Representative Bob Hagan (D), who recently announced that his candidacy for U.S. Senate is grounded in his anger that Sen. Rob Portman (R) stood up for gun owners' constitutional rights in recent votes against gun control, has apparently figured out that support for gun control is his ticket to gaining media attention for his fledgling candidacy.

This week, Hagan introduced House Bill 160, a gun control bill that is getting Hagan the attention he craves from willing media outlets across the state.

From WFMJ (NBC Youngstown):

State Representative Bob Hagan wants Ohio to join other states which have enacted Domestic-Violence Gun Control Laws.

Hagan said on Monday that he is sponsoring legislation that would force any person named in a domestic violence protection order to surrender their firearms to law enforcement within 24 hours.

"The most dangerous moments for domestic violence victims is what protection orders are first issued by temporarily separating the abuser from the firearms. We can work to prevent unnecessary and tragic homicides in the future," says Hagan.

Hagan says intimate partner homicides account for nearly half the women killed in the U.S. every year.

While Hagan failed to provide an example of where more words on yet another piece of paper saved a battered woman's life, he is inadvertently drawing attention to a fact that Buckeye Firearms Association and other self-defense advocates have long been trying to raise: protection orders aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

From the Youngstown Vindicator:

"As many as one in five women slain by intimate partners may have obtained protection orders against their eventual killers," Hagan said, citing research published in the Criminal Justice Review.

"Federal statute requires most of those served with full protection orders to give up their weapons, but the law is rarely enforced. It's time for Ohio to step up and protect victims from domestic violence," Hagan said.

So while Hagan's bill seems to change little, given that it reportedly does little more than mirror a federal law that is already in place, it does serve the purpose of drawing attention to the fact that, by statistics Hagan himself is citing, 20% of women who are killed by an "intimate partner" had previously obtained a "protection" order against their eventual killer.

As Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine pointed out in a media statement responding to this legislation, "it turns out that 'protection orders' don't work any better than 'gun free' zones. Killers are going to break the laws and kill people."

If Hagan really wanted to make a dent in domestic violence (rather than just make a play for media attention), he would be proposing that potential victims of domestic violence, particularly those of seek to obtain protection orders, be educated on the fact that they need to take other steps to protect themselves beyond simply getting a court to issue a piece of paper.

Hagan also is serving to educate the public on the immediate need for such steps to be taken:

Again, from the Vindicator:

"This law will implement a cooling-off period for those served a protection order. The most dangerous moment for domestic-violence victims is when protection orders are first issued," he added.

If Hagan really wanted to make a dent in domestic violence (rather than just make a play for media attention), he would also be proposing that it be mandatory that potential victims of domestic violence be informed about Ohio's Temporary Emergency License to carry a concealed handgun. The TEL can be issued by any one of Ohio's 88 Sheriffs to an applicant who signs an affidavit stating that they have reasonable cause to fear a criminal attack upon themselves or a member of their family, such as would justify a prudent person in going armed.

But Hagan isn't doing any of those things. Instead, he is proposing legislation which gives the State power to take personal property from someone who has not even been charged with a crime, let alone been convicted of one. Additionally, his bill requires applicants to report, "To the best of my knowledge, the number, types, and locations of any firearms possessed or controlled by the defendant."

Which brings up yet another point of objection. Sometimes protection orders are sought simply for harassment purposes. Why should a person be forced to sell her guns? If they are taken by police, and police don't properly handle/store them, are they responsible for the damage they do to personal property?

From WBNS (CBS Columbus):

Supporters of gun rights have come out against the legislation.

"I don't see it as solving the problem at all," said Jim Irvine, Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "Educating potential victims will do more good than passing another 'feel good, gun control' bill."

HB160 does nothing to address the real problems.

Anyone who truly wishes to help the potential victims of domestic violence should join us in making sure they know that carrying a gun for self-protection should be considered by anyone who feels the need to obtain a protective order. Educating potential victims will do more good than passing another "feel good" gun control bill.

But alas, it won't get Bob Hagan the attention he craves.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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