Monday, March 18, 2013

Restraining Orders Often Don't Require the Surrender of Weapons

Washington State Department of Corrections
Ms. Holten had recently applied for and obtained an order for protection against Mr. Holten. 

The New York Times

Early last year, after a series of frightening encounters with her former husband, Stephanie Holten went to court in Spokane, Wash., to obtain a temporary order for protection.  

Her former husband, Corey Holten, threatened to put a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger, she wrote in her petition. He also said he would “put a cap” in her if her new boyfriend “gets near my kids.” In neat block letters she wrote, “ He owns guns, I am scared.”

The judge’s order prohibited Mr. Holten from going within two blocks of his former wife’s home and imposed a number of other restrictions. What it did not require him to do was surrender his guns. 

About 12 hours after he was served with the order, Mr. Holten was lying in wait when his former wife returned home from a date with their two children in tow. Armed with a small semiautomatic rifle bought several months before, he stepped out of his car and thrust the muzzle into her chest. He directed her inside the house, yelling that he was going to kill her. 

For all its rage and terror, the episode might well have been prevented. Had Mr. Holten lived in one of a handful of states, the protection order would have forced him to relinquish his firearms. But that is not the case in Washington and most of the country, in large part because of the influence of the National Rifle Association and its allies.
The pro-gun argument is that hysterical women will be frivolously calling for restraining orders where they're not really needed and unfailry depriving their husbands of their god-given rights.

I say if a judge has enough evidence to order a man to stay away from his wife and kids and home, he has enough evidence to order the surrendering of weapons too.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. How about this. Instead of a restraining order, if there's evidence that one person is a threat to another, lock up the person posing the threat. He said that he was going to shoot her. That should be enough to file charges. Then the case can be tried in a court.

    By contrast, a restraining order doesn't take much to get. Misuse of restraining orders is a problem in our legal system. They're a technique used in divorce cases as a bargaining chip. They're also effectively useless, as this demonstrates. If we took threats more seriously, we wouldn't have people making all kinds of loose talk knowing that nothing much will come of it.

  2. My opinion? "I say if a judge has enough evidence to order a man to stay away from his wife and kids and home, he has enough evidence to" LOCK HIM UP. File charges and lock him up until the trial is complete. Restraining orders (and Protective orders) make poor shields against any attack. To me, the primary fault of a properly obtained restraining order (one that's not being misused by the one seeking it) is the presumption that a person who has made it clear that he is a real threat to others will be restrained by a piece of paper. The stalker who tried to stomp my wife to death in a parking garage long before I met her was under a restraining order.

    1. But short of locking the guy up who is unfit to go near his wife and kids you wouldn't agree to disarming him?

    2. No, I don't think so. I can see two ways of looking at this. One is to view the subject of a restraining order or similar document as so dangerous that he must be denied access to firearms. The problem, of course, is that such barring does not prevent the violent, and even lethal, violation of the restraining order. Locking up such a person, however, will do so. That's the second way of looking at this. If a person is deemed to be such a threat that he is barred contact with his wife and children, or even approaching them or his home, why do we want him walking about freely? Locking him up until his trial will deny him both access to any sort of weapon and the opportunity to cause harm.

      This really has little to do with firearms or even the way we utilize restraining orders. It has far more to do with a failure to take threats seriously.