Nel's New Day

September 22, 2014

Courts, Laws Protect Domestic Abusers

Jessica Arrendale, 33, was found dead in her bathroom after her partner beat her with a baseball  bat, kicked in the locked bathroom door, and then shot her with an assault rifle. She saved her six-month-old daughter, Cobie by putting her in the toilet and leaning over it. Antoine Davis, a Iraq veteran, had been suffering from depression, according to his ex-wife. After killing Arrendale, Davis went to his infant daughter’s bedroom and killed himself. His two daughters, ages 9 and 10, were in the house. Police waited 13 hours until storming the townhouse. The infant has a traumatic head injury but is alive after being cared for hypothermia.

The death of Arrendale will join the number of women killed with a gun by an intimate partner—6,410 between 2001 and 2012, more than the number of U.S. military members killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  The risk of a woman being the victim of homicide increases at least 500 percent when guns are present during the domestic violence crisis.

While people continue to be killed by guns either through intent or accident, the National Rifle Association has ramped up its attempt to put more money into the coffers of gun manufacturers. One of these efforts is hiring female gun enthusiasts as official NRA News commentators and the NRA Women’s TV Network, launched last year. Next month the NRA-hosted Women’s Leadership Forum Executive Summit will “celebrate the role of women as powerful leaders.”

One woman leader who NRA won’t celebrate is Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, attacked in the most recent issue of NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom. Conservative legal scholar and gun rights lobbyist Dave Kopel accuses Watts of being a front for a political group instead of a homemaker turned grassroots activist. Mother of five, Watts left her corporate PR executive position four years ago to be a consultant from her home. In 2010, she and her husband opened an art gallery. After Kopel’s denigration of Watts, he proceeds into the stale, false argument about how often good guys with guns stop the bad guys. But the major criticism is that “the willfully gullible media persist in portraying [Moms Demand Action] as an authentic social movement and Watts as a homemaker who just decided to do something about guns.”

Male NRA members support Kopel’s position. After the magazine posted an item on Facebook about Moms Demand Action “desperately bullying Kroger” over that company’s gun policy one commenter responded: “‘Moms Demand Action’ more like fat housewives that need to get a good dicking and get their ass back in the kitchen.” Another wrote, “Women are generally idiots.” Other responses: “Somebody needs to point out to these bitches that people who legally buy guns are not the ones going out and committing crimes”; and “They need to change their name to everyday nagging wives. That’s all they do. Seriously annoying.”

Desperate because they are not selling enough weapons for the gun manufacturers, the NRA has released two videos fantasizing young women as assault rifles. “Beauty Shots” shows NRA News commentator Colion Noir describing an attractive woman as she dresses in workout gear, swims, and stares seductively into the camera. Noir concludes, “She is Daniel Defense M4-A1.” The video was released three days after a college student killed seven people in Santa Barbara because of his rage at attractive young women. In a discussion of another video, Noir said, “The HK MR556 is that gun like that girl who’s unbelievably attractive, she has this presence about her that seems untouchable and she’s not apologetic about her beauty.” His female interviewer responded, “I like the comparison with the woman—the hot woman.”

The NRA sees women as an untapped source of gun buyers. Of the 70,000 people who attend its annual conferences, over 80 percent are men. As household gun ownership declines, male gun owners outnumber females by 3-1.

A common response from NRA supporters and people who refuse to believe in gun sense is that women should protect themselves with guns. Arrendale tried to protect herself with a baseball bat, but her killer took it away and beat her with it. Violence would most likely have happened if she had had a gun. There are many stories of men who purchase guns for wives and female partners before killing them with these weapons.

Equally—or perhaps more—tragic is the story of  Marissa Alexander, who fired one warning shot into the wall to ward off her abusive ex-husband as he threatened to attack her. The Florida woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Following George Zimmerman’s exoneration after he stalked and killed a black teenager, Alexander’s supporters were able to get her out of prison for a new trial. Now the prosecutor, the same person who gave such a weak case against Zimmerman’s defense, wants her in prison for 60 years. Florida has a new “Stand Your Ground” law that legalizes warning shots without first attempting to retreat. Yet Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Daniel has denied Alexander a hearing seeking immunity from prosecution.

No one knows how many other women are in prison because they defended themselves against abusers: no agency, including prison and court systems, keeps track of this statistic. A California prison study found that 93 percent of women who killed their significant others had been abused by them. In New York, it’s 67 percent.

Victoria Law reports that every domestic violence survivor in prison for defending herself had repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, sought help. One woman said that the police drove by and ignored the violence while her boyfriend beat her on the street. The only time that they arrested the boyfriend was for illegal drug paraphernalia—an overnight offense. Another woman said that every time she called the police that they would talk to the boyfriend and then allow him to return to abusing her. The abuser of a third woman was a police officer which left her nowhere to go for protection.

Law wrote:

“In Sin by Silence, a documentary about survivors incarcerated for defending themselves, sociologist Dr. Elizabeth Leonard explained that a battered woman is 75 percent more at risk of being killed after she leaves. She stays at that increased risk for the next two years. Feeling as if he’s losing control, batterers generally increase their level of violence. ‘Leaving does not stop the violence,’ states Dr. Leonard, in the film.”

Every women dealing with abuse knows that the choice is his life or hers. The difference between men and women is that men are exonerated and women are imprisoned.

Last month U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller was arrested for misdemeanor battery after his wife called 911 during his attack on her. He agreed to a 24-week domestic violence intervention program with no time behind bars and stays on the bench with his record expunged. Federal judges are confirmed by the Senate to lifetime terms, though the chamber can also remove them from office. Fuller, a George W. Bush appointee, was confirmed in 2002 with the support of GOP Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

Fuller issued this statement:

“This incident has been very embarrassing to me, my family, friends and the court,” Judge Fuller said in a statement. “I deeply regret this incident and look forward to working to resolve these difficulties with my family, where they should be resolved.”

At this time, Shelby and Sessions both want Fuller to leave the bench, but they have not called for impeachment. Law enforcement and courts continue to protect men and incarcerate women. Marissa Alexander is still in prison for defending herself, as are thousands of other women. Jessica Arrendale is dead because of domestic violence, like thousands of other women. And the United States allows uncontrolled purchase and ownership of guns used for killing innocent people.

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