It’s a statistically accurate fact that many people, especially women, are murdered by their spouses when their spouses have access to firearms after having a domestic violence order placed on them.
It’s an all-too-familiar situation that we too often read about in the newspaper or hear on television.
Under the law, once a person has a temporary or permanent domestic violence order against them, they are supposed to surrender every weapon and every piece of ammunition they own to the authorities.
Unfortunately, some don’t comply with these laws and their spouses can become victims as a result of it – because the guns and ammunition weren’t forfeited to authorities or, in some cases, because the authorities dropped the ball in ensuring that the guns and ammunition are collected.
A case that has recently brought a lot of national attention is that of Courtney Irby of Orlando, Fla. Irby gave her estranged husband’s guns to police after he was charged with domestic violence-aggravated battery, only to find herself arrested for theft.
Irby spent six days in jail on charges of armed burglary and grand theft after she retrieved the assault rifle and handgun from her husband’s apartment and gave them to Lakeland police. Joseph Irby was spending one day in jail at the time, accused of ramming into her car and running her off the road after a June 14 divorce hearing.
This is simply outrageous, to say the least. Courtney Irby goes to the police to hand in her husband’s firearms because she had reason to fear for her life after he allegedly rammed into her car.
Wouldn’t most people fear for their life after their husband allegedly rammed their car into yours?
There is no doubt that Courtney Irby broke the law here, as she admitted to the authorities that she said she entered her husband’s apartment through a locked door without his permission and took the guns to a police station.
But we think there should be some prosecutorial discretion here. Courtney Irby told police that she believed he wouldn’t turn in his guns himself, so she took action. It is quite clear that she feared for her life in this situation, which is why she gathered the guns and turned them into police in Lakeland.
Ramming a spouse’s vehicle shows someone with a dangerous mindset whose intent is to cause physical harm. Who’s to say that if she hadn’t turned the guns in that he wouldn’t have used them to take her life?
Thankfully, we don’t know the answer to that as the guns are now in the police department’s possession.
While we believe Courtney Irby did break the law, we also believe that her actions might have saved her life from what appears to be a very unstable husband. She most certainly didn’t deserve to spend six days in jail for her actions. She didn’t take the guns for her own personal use, she took them out of fear that her husband would use them to take her life.
Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando tweeted that it’s “ridiculous” to arrest a woman in this kind of situation. She sent a letter Monday to State Attorney Brian Haas asking that Courtney Irby not be prosecuted. She cited research showing the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely a woman will be murdered.
We couldn’t agree more with Eskamani’s thoughts on this issue. Once again, some prosecutorial discretion is needed here and the charges against Courtney Irby need to be dropped as soon as possible.