Guns, Politics, and Freedom
June 2004

Domestic violence:

Gun control’s latest stalking horse                   

By F. Paul Valone


The following column was published by the Durham Herald-Sun in June, 2004.


“stalk·ing-horse something used to mask a purpose”

What should one call a law passed in the name of murdered women that would, in reality, have saved none of them? A fraud, of course.


In 2002, allegedly responding to domestic murders at Ft. Bragg and elsewhere, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, supported by North Carolinians “Against Gun Violence,” wrote legislation purporting to prevent domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Introduced under politically correct cover by Senator Tony Rand (D-Cumberland), the bill streaked into law.


On its face, it addressed a legitimate problem: Ft. Bragg suffered a horrific series of domestic homicides. Unfortunately, that is where legitimacy ended. Despite proponents’ claims, gun possession by people under restraining orders was already prohibited by federal law.


Moreover, Sen. Rand’s bill wouldn’t have prevented homicides like that of Angela Floyd, shot by husband and Sergeant First Class Brandon Floyd; it wouldn’t have saved any of the five Ft. Bragg victims because their murderers--military personnel--were specifically exempted from the bill.


Nor did it restrict law enforcement abusers like High Point resident Tim Thayer who, under a restraining order, shot his son, his ex-wife and her boyfriend; police too are exempt from the law. The bill’s supporters, insisting that exemptions are for official use of firearms only, carefully ignored cases like Tacoma police Chief David Brame, who murdered his wife with his service revolver.


Before assuming that military and law enforcement personnel were excluded because problems are rare, consider that according to the Department of Defense, 25% of female military personnel under age 50 have been physically abused, 8,000 were abused from 1990 to 1995 (half by military personnel), and rates of victimization increased from 18.6 to 25.6 per thousand from 1990 to 1996.


Police also have higher rates of domestic abuse than the normal population (25-40% versus 16%). Notes one FBI study: “Many of the same qualities valued in…police officers can make those same officers dangerous perpetrators of domestic violence.”


So why pass a law disarming domestic abusers that exempts those prone to abuse? Because the intent was not to reduce victimization, but to create additional barriers to gun ownership.


Instead of simply prohibiting firearm possession by those under restraining orders, Rand’s law registers guns for all defendants, regardless of the complaint’s merit or whether a restraining order is even issued. (In 2002, only a third of domestic violence charges resulted in conviction; half were dismissed.)


Worse, defendant’s guns are registered and potentially surrendered in one-sided “ex parte” hearings where a judge may hear only the plaintiff’s version of events. The main “enhancement” of Rand’s bill over federal law is a gun registration and confiscation system which potentially denies a defendant the opportunity to present his case. Moreover, nothing prevents police from sending registration information to the BATF, FBI, or elsewhere.


With an agenda straight from Handgun Control, Inc. (now camouflaging itself as “The Brady Campaign”), gun control advocates are back for more. One proposal would further politicize the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force (CFTF) by adding a permanent representative of the same advocacy group behind last year’s shenanigans.


The CFTF, having endorsed nearly every gun control proposal it has entertained (including eliminating gun shows and registering gun sales, all for “the children”), is not only grubbing for greenbacks but wants legislation requiring all gun owners to lock up firearms, whether or not children live in the home.


Because such laws render firearms useless for self-protection and actually increase rape and murder, the concept has been repudiated by voters and legislators alike. Never fear, however: The all-knowing CFTF won’t let a few lowly voters thwart its agenda.


The upcoming propaganda campaign will brand gun owners who’ve been convicted of nothing as “domestic abusers.” Judging by gun control literature, it will tug at your heart with entreaties to protect “women and children” (They’re apparently unconcerned that 42% of North Carolina’s domestic victims are male).


While domestic violence is a serious problem, don’t expect to hear that according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “intimate murders” dropped by 43% between 1976 and 2000, including drops of 53% in the most afflicted group, black females, and--most telling--of 54% in gun-related homicides. Despite greater reporting, from 1993 to 2001 the rate of non-fatal intimate victimizations against women dropped by 49%.


So when gun control hides behind murdered women, remember that an archaic definition of “stalking horse” is a “figure like a horse behind which a hunter stalks game.” In the crosshairs today are both due process of law and your right to bear arms.