So, guns. Gun rights advocates argue that protecting private gun ownership is important, because it is important to ensure that private citizens are able to protect themselves against threats. Except—wait a minute—what’s that?
A 14-year-old girl is behind bars, facing aggravated murder charges for killing her father, but her family says she did it to protect her mother and her family.
Huh. Maybe there’s more to the story?
With tears flowing down her face, Brandi Meadows told the Fox 8 I-Team that her husband abused her for years but she was afraid to leave.
She had filed for a protective order five years ago but later dismissed it.
“I am so sorry she had to go through this,” Brandi said Thursday. “She is my hero. She helped me; she helped all of us so we could have a better life.”
Bresha Meadows is accused of shooting her father in their Warren home during the early morning hours of July 28. Her mother called 911 right after the shooting took place.
The girl’s attorney, Ian Friedman, said Bresha is a child that faced years of abuse at the hands of her father, and she witnessed her mother being abused.
“She wanted to protect her Mom,” Friedman said.
Bresha allegedly used her father’s gun to shoot him. Family members say the father often threatened them with that very gun.
“Using that gun around the house, to intimidate, everyone in the home was terrified,” Friedman said.
Yeah, no, I do not appear to be missing a thing. And Bresha sits in jail.
So, I wonder. How often does this happen? How often are women and/or children jailed for using guns to protect themselves against domestic violence?
Let’s take a gander down google lane . . .
A convicted Alabama murderer wept openly Tuesday as she was hauled away to serve a 25-year prison sentence for killing her ex-husband.
. . .
. . . Prosecutors argued that she did it to collect a $103,000 life insurance policy. But Tracey has maintained that Hunter approached her menacingly on that fateful day and that she shot him in self-defense after a relationship filled with domestic abuse.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” the mom cried as news cameras followed her through a courthouse hallway. “All I did was protect myself.”
Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge John England wouldn’t allow jurors to hear details about the rape and sodomy that Tracey alleged she suffered at Hunter’s hands. The ex-husband was charged with assault in 2010. . . . The attack allegedly caused rectal nerve damage and required surgery. At one point, Tracey pulled up her shirt to reveal a colostomy bag.
“He told me that he would make it to where nobody would ever want me,” Tracey said.
WTF. Seriously, WTF.
Surely there aren’t . . . more, are there?
A Smyrna woman received a 25-year prison sentence, suspended after four years, for shooting her husband to death during a domestic violence-fueled confrontation in 2014 that shattered two families.
. . .
In court, a case where Mrs. King declined to cooperate with police after taking a gunshot to the scalp from Mr. King in 1996 was referenced. Judge Witham described the relationship as a classic case of the cycle of domestic violence that continues despite ongoing abuse.
. . .
In remarks before the court, Deputy Attorney General Babowal requested a sentence of “substantially more” than the mandatory minimum required and said the “defendant had numerous opportunities to address issues with police and other state agencies but failed to do so.”
They can’t be serious. Can they?
By the time she was 19, she’d married her boyfriend. One day, he and Kelli got in a fight that resulted in second-degree burns all over her body, because he’d used an iron. She says she was “burnt completely on my chest, on my arm, on my face and on my neck.” She’d fought back, so they both went to jail. He was released before she was, and he was waiting for Kelli on the same street as the police station where she’d been held when she got out. They went home together.
Seven months later, it was happening again. They’d gotten into what Kelli calls a “domestic violence fight” that started because her husband was “upset about some things that were laying around the house.” She escaped to a neighbor’s and called the cops, who came and “made a joke like, ‘Dang, didn’t we come here before?'” Kelli pointed to the marks on her body – not yet fully healed – and said there was a reason she called the police so regularly. Sometimes they came and sometimes they didn’t, she told them.
The police decided not to kick her husband out, and asked whether she had anywhere to go. She went to her mom’s, but “that day he kept calling my mom’s house, threatening to kill me,” she says. He threatened that “something was going to happen to me and my children because if we couldn’t stay together, we were going to die together.” Kelli had to return to her house to pick up more of her belongings.
But before she did, she bought a gun.
“When I went back over there, he was there,” Kelli says. “He kept taunting me; he kept telling me, ‘You think this is over?’
“Finally, he threatened me somehow,” she says. “Whispered in my ear. And I just lost it. At that point, I pulled out the gun; he’s taunting me and then he charged at me.
“And I shot him.”
Kelli, now 36, spent 15 years in jail for manslaughter. She got out when she was 33 years old.
WHAT. WHAT. But, that’s . . . thats’s it, right? Right?
A Queens woman who killed her husband after suffering years of abuse at his hands was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison on a weapons charge, less than the maximum sentence of 15 years but short of her request for further leniency.
. . .Acting Justice Barry Kron of State Supreme Court in Queens acknowledged that the trial underscored the cumulative toll of nearly two decades of domestic abuse, but he said the sentence had to reflect the crime committed during the course of the killing. “Raymond Sheehan was not the person on trial,” he said.
So the picture I’m gathering is that women are not in fact allowed to use guns in self-defense—or at least, they’re not allowed to do so if the person they’re defending themselves against is their husband or partner. Apparently?
Tanya Mitchell’s voice was frantic on the 911 call. “Why did you shoot him with a gun?” the operator asked. “I don’t know,” said Mitchell, crying. “He said that he was going to kill me…. No, I know he was going to kill me.” Mitchell had plenty of reason to believe she was in danger: She says her husband had tortured her, that he had offered her up to members of his motorcycle club, and watched as they gang-raped her—only to beat her afterward for “allowing” the rape to happen. She recalls how he tried to rip her toenails off with pliers, and times she endured games of Russian roulette, where he held a gun to her forehead—click, click, click. . . .
. . .
Mitchell . . . pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and like many women who kill an intimate partner, she received the maximum sentence—in her case, 15 years. Lorenz-Moser says that generally, men who kill their wives receive less jail time than women who kill their husbands—even when those husbands were abusive.
Oh good god. And the article also has some statistics.
As many as 93 percent of women serving time for killing an intimate partner were abused by that partner, according to a California state prison study. Seventy-five percent of women in New York prisons have been the victim of abuse as an adult, and data from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision shows that 67 percent of women jailed in 2005 for killing someone close to them were abused by their victims.
You know what this means? I have to look for more statistics.
Though women commit murder far less often than men, they typically receive longer sentences for killing their male partners than do men who kill female partners, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. While these women average 15-year sentences, men’s sentences are between two and six years. Roughly 90 percentof women behind bars for killing men were physically abused by their victims, according to the Purple Berets, a California-based organization that advocates for equal justice for women. Part of the disparity in sentence lengths has to do with women being more likely to kill with weapons, bringing harsher sentences than a homicide caused by beating or strangulation might.
Wait—these women get longer terms because they use weapons to kill their abusers, rather than their bare hands? That’s the whole point of weapons! Gun advocates talk all the time about how guns level the playing field and make self-defense easier for those without the physical strength or stature to protect themselves that way.
I bet the NRA is all over this shit, right?
For nearly a decade, the National Rifle Association successfully blocked a bill in Washington state that would have required alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order. Only those actually convicted of felony domestic violence, the nation’s largest gun lobby argued, should be made to forfeit their gun rights.
Okay, no, that’s not it, let’s try again . . .
Whoa. The NRA apparently released a whole series of ads last month encouraging women to buy guns and shoot their abusers or rapists. Those women are in for a tough awakening if they actually do so, though, and I’m still digging, but the NRA does not appear to be either aware of this or on top of this problem at all.
I’m looking, looking . . .
Okay, I’ve now finished combing the legal and issues sections of the NRA website, and no, they are definitely not aware of this issue. The closest I can find is support for a law that would allow domestic violence victims who have taken out protective orders against their abusers to obtain expedited temporary concealed carry permits. I don’t see any acknowledgement that these women could end up in jail if they actually use those guns to protect themselves from their abusers.
Perhaps you’re wondering—what about “stand your ground” laws? Yes, the NRA has supported “stand your ground” laws, but that’s not actually what I’m talking about. I’m talking about ordinary, existing laws—the laws we already had, which should have been good enough—being applied with a serious gender bias. Stand your ground laws allow you to shoot strangers you find scary in that moment. I’m talking about women who have been abused for months, years, even decades, who shoot their domestic abusers in what should be clearly seen as self defense. It’s not about standing your ground, it’s about regular old self defense. And you know what? I’ve never seen the NRA address the sexism embedded in the application of these laws.
Perhaps most amazing, even in states that have “stand your ground” laws, women are still convicted of murdering their abusers. Why is that? Have a look:
South Carolina is one of more than 20 states that has passed an expansive Stand Your Ground law authorizing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense. The law has been used to protect a man who killed an innocent bystander while pointing his gun at several teens he called “women thugs.” But prosecutors in Charleston are drawing the line at domestic violence.
In the cases of women who claim they feared for their lives when confronted with violent intimate abusers, prosecutors say the Stand Your Ground law shouldn’t apply.
“(The Legislature’s) intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” prosecutor Culver Kidd told the Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with (its) wording and intent.”
I wish I were making this up. I’m not, and frankly, I’m only being more gobsmacked the deeper into this I go. I can’t find the NRA responding to this at all. They appear content to let this interpretation fly, perhaps because their membership is primarily male. The problem appears to be this—stand your ground laws are designed for protection against an intruder, not for protection against an abuser. Have a look:
Florida became the first state to adopt a SYG law in 2005. Based on the British common law on self-defense, SYG eliminates the duty to retreat when using self-defense and expands the “Castle Doctrine.” The statute contains two additional unusual components: immunity from arrest and prosecution for anyone falling under the statute and a presumption that a person facing an intruder in a dwelling or residence possesses fear of death or great bodily harm. Stranger yet, SYG also presents several exceptions in which the person using deadly force is denied the presumption of reasonable fear—thus, prosecutorial immunity—including if “[t]he person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, [or] residence . . . such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision of no contact order against that person” (emphasis added). This exception is particularly problematic for victims of domestic violence who live with their abuser because it denies them the SYG defense if they do not have a valid protective order.
In other words, Florida’s “stand your ground” law specifically and explicitly excludes cases where an individual kills someone lawfully living in the same dwelling—i.e., a domestic partner. Given that ten of the twenty-four states that passed bills similar to Florida’s “stand your ground” law copied the text virtually identically, this problem appears to be widespread. Not only is the NRA not addressing sexist applications of self-defense law, they’re also okay with explicitly exempting cases where an individual shoots a domestic abuser from their extensive new “stand your ground” laws. I mean for god’s sake, the NRA drafted Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
As I wrap this up, I find myself coming back to Bresha Meadows, the 14-year-old girl in jail awaiting trial for shooting and killing her abusive father. The NRA ought to be championing Bresha as a hero—she picked up a gun and used it to save her mother and protect herself from a man who had already proven himself ready and willing to harm her. What’s that I hear? Radio silence? I am not surprised, but I am grieved—terribly, terribly grieved. Hang in there, Bresha. Hang in there.