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April 02, 2007

University of Washington staffer killed by stalker, guns and domestic violence

story photo

I hate to say it but protection orders are for women who want to free themselves from annoying men. If you feel truly unsafe, you need to do whatever you can to escape the threat ... while also taking every available legal measure as well. Truly violent offenders are often only more enraged by protection orders - but not restrained by them.

How many more women gunshot victims have to land on the front pages before we see King County provide additional assistance to women facing threats like this?

I have to license my car every year and my driving skills every five, why can psychologically unstable people buy guns so easily?

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 2, 2007 at 11:24 PM | Permalink


Jeff, be very careful when you assert things like "Truly violent offenders are often only more enraged by protection orders - but not restrained by them." There is quite a lot of actual research on lethality and protection - start with the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review and other documents available at http://www.wscadv.org/. You are nearly always safer with a protection order than without - and you are doing your readers a grave disservice when you imply otherwise.

Posted by: Bill Sherman | Apr 3, 2007 9:57:38 AM

Thanks Bill - but I think what I am saying is women should go through the steps of getting a protective order ... but in the meantime while King Cty doesn't provide adequate protection for women so obviously threatened by violence as this one was ... they need to do whatever they can to protect themselves and sadly that may mean fleeing their home and their job (or arming themselves) until they can better guarantee their safety. I am sure I am starting a firestorm by saying that ... ideally the UW and the police should have provided protection for this woman ... but when that doesn't happen they need to follow their instinct. if they don't feel safe, they likely aren't. I suggest reading Gift of Fear ... a great book on the subject which discusses these matters in more depth.

Posted by: jeff | Apr 3, 2007 10:33:42 AM

From the Seattle Times today...

Studies done by the U.S. Department of Justice, the University of Washington and others have shown, however, that legal remedies, such as the filing of no-contact orders, restraining orders or orders of protection, can sometimes spur offenders into lethal action.

Bradshaw tells the story of several men he's prosecuted who killed their family members after orders of protection were granted.

"Given the access to weapons, and the determination of some men, there is realistically nothing that can be done to stop them from doing what they did," he said.

Posted by: Jeff | Apr 3, 2007 10:48:42 AM

Jeff, read the Seattle Times quote more carefully: "... can *sometimes* spur offenders into lethal action." The vast majority do not. It's a mistake to focus on those rare cases. Your specific concern - easy possession of firearms - is precisely addressed by protection orders, which require the restrained person to surrender firearms.

No doubt protection orders don't stop everyone. But don't fall for the post hoc fallacy - later lethality is not the result of the protection order.

Posted by: Bill Sherman | Apr 3, 2007 12:09:07 PM

Bill, I think you're misunderstanding me. Women who feel threatened by domestic partners cannot rely on a protective order alone ... sadly. If they feel threatened, they may need to take extreme measures to protect themselves because the system does not. This woman did move but she maintained her place of work. She took a number of measures...but tragically not enough. It's very tragic to place the burden on the victim ... but we live in a society in which government doesn't take adequate responsibility for these sorts of situations.

Posted by: Jeff | Apr 3, 2007 12:31:54 PM

“I have to license my car every year and my driving skills every five, why can psychologically unstable people buy guns so easily?”

I’m trying to think of a kind way of saying this, but that has to be one of the most repugnant statements I believe I have read in recent memory.

If he had hit her with a car, would you still be making the same point? How about if he used a kitchen knife or a ax?

With 4 billion rounds ammunition used per year for training/sporting/self-defense purposes, the “Car=Gun” analogy doesn’t fly, especially since one of them is a constitutionally guaranteed right and the other is only a priviledge.

First: If he had shown signs of previous mental instability, the murderer would have popped up a flag on the Federal NICS check that needs to be done before each and every firearms purchase. Since the Fed and pro-gun control groups (like Ceasefire Washington) claim a 0% failure rate with the NICS system, we can only assume that he owned the gun previous to the restraining order being issued, which leads us directly to the next point.

Second, when a restraining order is issued, the person whose name is on the order to be restrained legally has to surrender their firearms to the local police until the order expires or is rescinded.

The victim could not give the judicial system a current residence for the murder, so not only could they not serve the order on him, they couldn’t confiscate his firearms. Should the police have put out a statewide ABP on the guy or just gone to every address where someone with his name lived and taken any firearms on the premesis? Registering guns to people wouldn't have helped after the first time the guy changed residences.

Third, and perhaps the most saddening, even if the victim had taken the advice given by Will over at HorsesAss and purchased a firearm for protection


The UW Campus is a “Gun Free Zone” and she would be jeopardizing her job by taking it there for that purpose. Knowing that she worked at the UW and knowing that there would be no one around who could stop him is quite probably why the murderer chose to kill her there.

Then we have this statement:

“How many more women gunshot victims have to land on the front pages before we see King County provide additional assistance to women facing threats like this?”

The SCOTUS has ruled multiple times that no Judicial or Constabulary agency has any responsibility for the protection of anyone. They are charged with the writing of reports after murders like this one happened and that is all. If the report leads to an arrest and conviction then kudos to those agencies says the SCOTUS

Seeing as how the latter two items will be impossible in this case, the local Judiciary and Constabulary will get a little mud on their robes and badges, but the legal precedents let them wipe it off clean.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to live in a place where the government was responsible for my safety. Sounds like a police state to me.

Are you suggesting that every woman (and apparently only women) who are issued restraining orders be given 24-hour protection for the duration of their order? You must be, as I can think of nothing else the judges and police could do that would increase the protection of the person, ooops “woman”, who asked for the order.

Our local police agencies can barely pay for ammunition to practice their self-defense skills with, and the Tacoma PD is planning on sending a bill to the US Army for keeping the SDS dweebs out of the Port of Tacoma, so assigning 3 officers to work 8 hour shifts (or 2 to work 12’s) to protect a single person is absurd.

Maybe, if the current societal buzz wasn’t “guns are bad” and “only criminals and rednecks own guns”, the victim wouldn’t have been so disinclined to protect herself.

I might also point out that this mythical stereotype is promoted by not only by the political party you, sir, support but also by groups that give money to said party. It is a singularly politically Liberal/Progressive based stereotype.

And going back to the first quote of yours: To portray the typical law-abiding firearm owner as a potential criminal, who should go through an intensive background check that no politician, judge or prosecutor would stand for so that they may exercise the basic human right of self-defense is not only repugnant, but ignorant and repulsive.

Posted by: Phil | Apr 4, 2007 8:01:13 AM

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