The NRA's policies are deadly for women

Andrea Washington was a newly minted chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy. She was also a victim of domestic abuse, who was granted a temporary restraining order against her ex-fiancée on Sept. 6 after he allegedly kicked her and threatened her with his gun. A hearing to make that order permanent was set for 12 days later, but Chief Washington did not appear for the hearing. That afternoon, she was found shot to death in her home, allegedly by the same man who had abused her.

Federal law prohibits those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a permanent domestic violence restraining order from owning guns. There is no such prohibition on those arrested, charged, or subject to a temporary domestic violence restraining order, and it often takes weeks or even months for such an order to be granted. Once granted, it is left up to the states on how to enforce such a prohibition on firearms, with many states leaving it up to the offender to report and surrender their guns.


The NRA seems to like it that way.

In Oregon, the NRA opposed legislation that closed the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows romantic partners convicted of domestic abuse who never co-habitated with their victims to keep their firearms. It also added convicted stalkers to the list of those prohibited from possessing guns.

A number of states have added so-called “red flag laws,” which allow those closest to people most likely to commit gun violence to petition judges to remove their guns. Despite paying lip-service to supporting these life-saving laws in the harsh glare of the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting, the NRA has universally opposed them.

In fact, the NRA has even opposed efforts of state legislatures to create the authority to confiscate the guns of prohibited possessors. It is impossible to draw any other conclusion than the NRA wants domestic abusers to keep their guns.

It’s killing women.

Lori Jackson obtained a temporary restraining order against her husband. The day before the hearing for a permanent restraining order, he shot her dead and seriously wounded her mother.

Stephanie Goodloe was a youth minister in Washington, D.C., who was granted a temporary restraining order against her ex partner. Days before the hearing on a permanent restraining order, he shot her dead.

Fifty seven of women killed as a result of domestic violence are shot.

The NRA complains about “due process” when opposing legislation that could have saved the lives of Lori Jackson and Stephanie Goodloe. It’s a preposterous argument.

Due process is inherent in obtaining a restraining order — it is issued by a judge or other official empowered to do so. Even in ex parte cases, where the subject of the order is not present, sufficient evidence of immediate danger must be presented to a judge to issue a temporary protective order. A full hearing on a longer-term or permanent order follows, usually within days or weeks.

What’s hard to see is just how much due process Lori Jackson, Stephanie Goodloe, or Andrea Washington received before they were executed.

As hard to fathom as it is, the NRA’s position appears to be if a man screams to his victim, “As soon as I get out, I’m going to shoot you” while being arrested, he should still be able to keep his guns until convicted or until a permanent restraining order is issued, and police should be just fine with it.

It’s time for federal law to empower local police to seize firearms from dangerous individuals at the time they are most dangerous, and require the confiscation guns of individuals under any kind of domestic violence restraining order. The Violence Against Women Act is due to expire this week. Adding these commonsense changes to the renewal of this important legislation will save lives — something that is supposed to be more important than NRA campaign money.

For too long, the NRA has seemingly enabled an epidemic of gun violence in this nation. It’s especially egregious that their twisted idea of gun rights stretches to keep abusers armed over keeping their victims alive.

Chief Andrea Washington served a nation that refused to disarm her abuser. It cost her life. The nation needed this brave sailor more than her murderer needed his gun. It’s time for Congress to close these dangerous loopholes while reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act before more women die at the hands of their abusers.

Ben Jackson is the co-founder of #NoRA, a diverse coalition of activists, actors, artists, gun violence survivors and policy makers who are committed to ending the NRA’s grip on American government.