Flawed Laws Help Stalkers Victimize Women Tuesday , April 10, 2007
By John Lott and Sonya Jones
Police may be the single most important factor for reducing crime, but there is something the police themselves understand: They almost always arrive at the crime scene after the crime has occurred.
Expecting people to trust the police to protect them and to behave passively is a recipe for disaster.
The last couple of weeks have seen a couple prominent murders where restraining orders did women little good. Numerous news organizations, such as ABC News, have run headlines asking "Get the hell away from him" often doesn't go anywhere near far enough.
With her tragic murder last Monday on the campus of the University of Washington, Rebecca Griego learned this the hard way. Twice she had filed for restraining orders against her abusive and physically violent former boyfriend, Jonathan Ghulam-Nabi Rowan, but the police didn’t know where he lived and could never serve him.
But restraining orders often aren't worth the paper on which they're written, even when they are served.
For a stalker intent on killing his victim or committing suicide after the attack, the penalty for violating a restraining order is irrelevant. With Seattle police's response time of seven minutes for the highest-priority emergency calls, the police simply can't be there to protect you even with a restraining order. Seven minutes can seem like an eternity.
With such rampant failures in the system, there is one piece of advice that could have saved Rebecca’s life: Practice self-defense and a get a gun.
Indeed, the University of Washington goes in the opposite direction and tries to protect people by declaring the campus a “gun-free zone,” with the school’s code of conduct research with Bill Landes at the University of Chicago that examined all the multiple-victim public shootings in the United States from 1977 to 1999. We found that when states passed right-to-carry laws, these attacks fell by 60 percent. Deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fell on average by 78 percent.
To the extent that attacks still occurred, they overwhelmingly happened in the special places within right-to-carry states where concealed handguns were banned. The University of Washington is a good example of this.
There is no evidence that there are any more accidental gun deaths that occur from right-to-carry laws. Permit holders also tend to be extremely law-abiding.
Ironically, earlier this year University of Washington President Mark Emmert began consideration of making the school’s ban somehow apply to students living off campus as well. Students are sitting ducks on campus, but the change would make them vulnerable off campus as well.
Not only did the gun-free zones fail here, but it is extremely unlikely that Rowan could even legally own a gun. As a non-resident alien, Rowan needed an alien firearms license to even own a gun, something that rarely is granted.
There is an even simpler point to make. It is the physically weakest, women and the elderly, who benefit the most from having a gun to protect themselves. The U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey has shown for decades that resistance with a gun is John Lottis the author of the forthcoming book,"Freedomnomics"and the Dean's visiting Professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Sonya Jonesis a lawyer.
edited noticed the last paragraph was cut off the original post
So very true, banning people from legally carrying to protect themselves legally only makes it easier for those who choose to break the laws to do harm. Reminds me of hte episode of Penn & Teller's B.S. about guns, the particular part about giving women guns to protect themselves, even if only half. To a criminal choosing a victim that would be a 50% of getting shot, I bet those crimes would drastically drop.
I would not say restraining orders are useless.... they do serve at least one valuable function: they remove the discretion from the police. Look at the same scenario under two different circumstances:
- Your ex shows up, pounding on the door and threatening to kill you. You call the police, they respond, and he is polite and civilized toward them. -
1) No restraining order. The police may believe he is no threat and simply depart without doing a thing. They may tell you that you HAVE to let him in. They may ask him to leave. Call three different cops, you'll get three different responses.
2) Restraining order in place. He will be arrested for violating a court order (at least in Arizona). No ifs, ands, or buts. The discretion has been removed from the police by the court. You have proved your case to the judge, so you do not have to prove it again when the police show up. The offender IS going away, period.
Other than that, I agree that paper doesn't stop bullets (unless you're holding up a City of Phoenix phone book..... that'll probably stop a .44). A restraining order is just one tool of many that may be needed if some kind of whacko has found his way into your life.