In August 2008, Melissa Batten was shot eight times and killed in the parking lot outside her home. The gunman was her estranged husband, Robert Batten, against whom she'd obtained a temporary protection order after learning that he had bought a handgun. In her petition to the court, she described a terrifying encounter in which he had pointed a loaded gun at her. He was required to keep away from her, but not to surrender his gun.
Cases like this aren't unusual, according to a New York Times investigation. At least 25% of female homicide victims in America are killed by a domestic partner with a gun.
In Washington state, dozens of gun-related crimes, including murder and kidnapping, are committed by people issued with protection orders. "In at least five instances over the last decade, women were shot to death [by their partner] less than a month after obtaining protection orders." Similar stats were obtained in Minnesota.
The NYTimes places blame on "the National Rifle Association and its allies" for successfully lobbying against laws that would require the surrender of firearms in the case of protection orders.
Firearms must be surrendered under protection orders in just a few states - California, Hawaii and Massachusetts. In California, a 19-year-old woman obtained a protection order against her husband, who had threatened to kill her. Police searched his property and confiscated seven firearms, the Times reports.
"Every murder, when you look at it, there are always points where law enforcement could have made a difference," said the detective who carried out the search. "I don't ever want to be that guy who goes to sleep knowing he hasn't done everything to protect the public."
Via the New York Times.