Let's Keep Guns Away from Possible Domestic Abuse Victims: The Latest in Memorial Legislation


Don't worry, abuse victims! You have easy alternatives to firearms!

Meet "Christy's Law," the latest effort to turn a terrible tragedy into terrible legislation. Via The Orange County Register:

The husband of Seal Beach hair salon shooting victim Christy Wilson is trying to find a state legislator to introduce a bill in Sacramento that would temporarily take guns away from anyone involved in a heated divorce or child custody battle.

Christy and seven others were killed at Meritage Salon last October in the worst massacre in Orange County history. The ex-husband of a hair stylist at the salon is charged in the killings.

Paul Wilson is gathering signatures through an online petition to introduce a law in California that would require both parties in a divorce or custody battle give up any weapons they own during the proceedings and prohibit them from purchasing any new ones.

How, exactly, the government would have the legal authority to require such a surrender is not clear, which might be why nobody in the state legislature has thrown their weight behind the proposal as yet. It's California, though; that the law is a blatant violation of the Second and Fourth Amendments might not be considered a barrier. It's also relatively new, having garnered only 898 of the 25,000 signatures they're looking for as of Monday morning.

That the law is a terribly bad and dangerous idea should be apparent to anybody interested in unintended consequences. I'm assuming, at least, it is not Paul Wilson's intent that spouses trying to escape out of abusive relationships should be unable to defend themselves against a partner who might try to kill them precisely because they're trying to get out of said abusive relationship.

Though whether people who could be affected by this law grasp the concept of self-defense could be brought into question. One woman who signed the virtual petition added this note: "I have sole legal and physical custody of my son, a restraining order, have had my husband's gun confiscated yet I don't feel safe." Perhaps this law would make her feel safe, though it wouldn't actually make her any safer.

Scott Dekraal, the alleged mass murderer in the Seal Beach shooting, had 10 firearms taken from him by police on two separate prior occasions, The Register reports. But in each case they were returned. This is treated as a failure of the system by Paul Wilson's attorney, Michael Balmer. As usual, there's nothing in the proposed law that would prevent somebody from wanting to do harm from obtaining firearms illegally. There is, however, an exception for law enforcement!

Speaking of Paul Wilson's attorney, The Register's story doesn't get into the other half of the proposed law, which would make it easier to pursue a civil trial against a defendant in a criminal case while the criminal case is still ongoing. Paul Wilson has filed a wrongful death civil suit against Dekraal, which Dekraal wants to stay until the criminal case is concluded. Christy's Law would also require any defendant seeking a stay of a civil case while their criminal case is ongoing to declare their wealth and could potentially require defendants to post a bond equal to their declared wealth. It would also allow for a protective order in the civil case to prevent the defendant's testimony from being used in a concurrent criminal case, avoiding any potential Fifth Amendment violations that could be used to justify a stay.

The justification for this change is described in Paul Wilson's petition:

Mr. Wilson is aware that he is in a unique position; typically civil cases against criminal defendants are unfruitful due to their indigence.  However, in situations such as the instant case, were the defendant has sufficient assets (Dekraai is estimated to have over $500,000.00 in assets plus thousands paid to him monthly from an annuity), defendants should not be afforded the time and opportunity of a stay to squander or hide assets during the pendency of the criminal matter. Such legislation would protect victims from being re-victimized by defendants in the civil arena.

Hat tip to Sloopyinca for passing along the link.

Below: Kennedy talks with Washington Times senior editor Emily Miller about women and gun ownership for Reason.tv.