Nel's New Day

October 25, 2012

A Literal War on Women

Recently a friend was telling me about his participation in a protest at The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, because they were not reporting on any of the protests at the time. The spokesperson told them that there were so many protests that these were no longer news. Now the same response is probably being applied to the mass killings across the United States.

Last Sunday Zina Haughton’s husband, Radcliffe, went to her workplace, Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield (WI). He killed her and two other women who worked there, Maelyn Lind and Cary L. Robuck, as well as wounding four other women. He then killed himself. Lind died when she shielded Zina Haughton’s 20-year-old daughter. There was barely a mention of this horrific event in the mainstream media.

It was the second mass shooting in Wisconsin this year. Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran and white supremacist, killed six people and injured three others before fatally shooting himself Aug. 5 at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee.

The police knew that Radcliffe Haughton was a threat to his wife. They had been called to their home 20 times during the past decade but never made any arrests. During a January 2011 visit to the couple’s home in Brown Deer, officers thought they saw him with a rifle, and they set up a perimeter around the house. They told Haughton he was under arrest and ordered him to surrender, but he refused. The police left after 90 minutes without arresting him. A misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct was dismissed because Zina Haughton and the officer who could identify Radcliffe did not attend the court proceeding.

Village President Carl Krueger said, “Obviously, in retrospect we regret the lady didn’t pursue the complaint against him and we regret the ultimate result and we feel bad for the victims, but I don’t think it was something that we could have prevented unless we take up a policy of tear-gassing every house where a guy says he will not come out.” Brown Deer Police Chief Steven Rinzel said officers left the scene without making an arrest because they weren’t sure Haughton had a gun, thought he was alone in the house, and didn’t think he posed a danger. In other words, not their fault.

Three days before her killing, Zina Haughton had secured a restraining order against her husband shooting and talked in court about how she feared for her life.

Even with his extensive history of domestic abuse, Radcliffe Haughton managed to get a legal firearm in Wisconsin. NRA lobbying caused Republicans to pass a loophole for firearms purchases that allows individuals to purchase guns from a private seller without submitting to a background check. In 2010, the NRA successfully lobbied against Wisconsin legislation that would have required individuals subject to a restraining order to turn in their weapons within 48 hours or face arrest.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen opposes changing the law because it would be too hard to enforce. “Who is to draw the line between, ‘I sold you a firearm, I loaned you a firearm, I’ve given you a firearm, you’ve taken the firearm from me?’ ” asked Van Hollen. “Not to mention, you could try to close every presumed loophole you can, and people who want to do these things are going to find a way to do it.” He apparently thinks that the solution is to do nothing.

The loophole gave Haughton the opportunity to legally and lawfully purchase a gun without anyone’s knowledge after the court’s restraining order that required him to turn in all his firearms to the police. At the time Haughton purchased his gun, he was prohibited under federal law from purchasing one. A private seller sold him one anyway. Federal law requires that individuals “engaged in the business of selling firearms” obtain a license and conduct background checks on their customers. But the definition of what it means to be “engaged in the business” is vague and allows the private sales market.  An estimated 40 percent of gun sales are conducted by private sellers without a background check.

The NRA is on record as opposing mandatory background checks on gun purchases and has repeatedly denied that allowing private sales without a background check poses a danger to the public. At the same time Republicans are dragging their knuckles in passing a continuation of the Violence against Women Act because it supports lesbians and Native American women. In a survey of 733 domestic violence shelters across the country, nearly 80 percent have experienced an increase in requests for help this year; almost 60 percent said the abuse has become more violent than before the recession. Yet 80 percent of the shelters surveyed reported decreased government assistance which required them to end or scale back programs and services.

Half of all women murdered in this country are killed by a partner or an ex-partner while ammunition for firearms is easier to purchase than birth control pills.

And spare me the the indignant responses when I suggest that there should be restrictions to keep all people from purchasing an unlimited number of guns—ostensibly for “protection” or “hunting” or just plain “freedom.” People can’t kill without guns, the Constitution never intended that individuals should be able to possess huge arsenals, and laws cannot be enacted without knowledge of people owning guns.

Even NRA members show some sanity about gun control although the leadership out of control.

Gun Show Loophole: In over 30 states anyone can purchase a firearm from a “private seller” without any kind of background check, including a .50 caliber sniper rifle that can take down a helicopter. Sixty-nine percent of NRA members want this loophole closed.

Terror Gap: People on the U.S. terror watch list cannot fly commercially but they can buy guns and explosives. Eighty-two percent of NRA members want this loophole closed.

Tiahrt Amendments: These laws limit law enforcement’s ability to access, use, and share data to enforce federal, state, and local gun laws. Sixty-nine percent of NRA members want this loophole closed.

Reporting Lost and Stolen Guns: Some cities and townships have passed laws that lost and stolen guns must be reported, but the NRA threatens to overturn these laws. Seventy-eight percent of NRA members approve of laws that mandate the reporting of lost and stolen guns.

Sharing Records With National Instant Background Check System (NICS): After Rep. Gabby Giffords (AZ) was severely wounded with others and six people were killed, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Fix Fun Checks Act to close the gun-show loophole and require states and federal institutions to share records of people who cannot purchase firearms because of criminal record or mental health defects. In Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Arizona and Colorado, more than 82% of gun owners support fully funding states to share these records while 91% supported requiring federal agencies to share information on potentially dangerous persons such as the shooter in the Giffords case. NRA opposes all these methods of closing these loopholes.

The GOP won’t listen to the NRA members because it can no longer present any semblance of rationality. While they want absolutely no control over violence from guns, going so far as to allow anyone to claim self-protection after killing another person, they are equally determined to control women. The following Republican Rape Chart shows how far over the edge the GOP has gone.

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