The Power of a Restraining Order

Advocates of gun control are very adamant about disarming everybody but the state. When self-defense advocates ask what a woman being targeted by an abusive husband is supposed to do to protect herself gun control advocates usually say she should get a restraining order. While the concept of a restraining order may sound nice on the surface it’s quite literally a piece of paper that holds no actual power over human beings as the recent shooting in Wisconsin demonstrated:

At a restraining order hearing Thursday, the wife, Zina, begged the court for protection, saying her husband would surely kill her.

With her voice shaking, she outlined how he’d threatened to throw acid in her face. How he accused her of cheating on him. How his red hot jealousy terrorized her “every waking moment.”

“Things have gotten so bad. We need to separate,” she said at the hearing, according to a recording obtained by CNN affiliate WISN. “We need a divorce before you hurt me. I don’t want to die.”

The judge sided with her. Haughton was ordered to stay away from his wife for the next four years. He was forbidden from possessing a gun.

She was issued a restraining order yet it proved ineffective:

But on Saturday, he bought a .40-caliber handgun from a private seller. Wisconsin law only requires background checks for purchases from a dealer.

And he waited.

The next day he took her life.

Of course the gun control advocates are pointing out that the shooter was able to avoid a background check because he purchased his firearm from a private seller. What they don’t stop to consider is that it’s unlikely the issued restraining order would have appear on a background check as it was issued Thursday and the gun was purchased Saturday. Things move slowly in the state’s bureaucracy and something issued by a judge rarely shows up in a federal system two days later. More importantly it wouldn’t matter if Wisconsin prohibited private sales since the shooter was planning to commit murder and there is no evidence showing he was unwilling to commit the additional crime of buying a firearm illegally or stealing one.

Laws are not a method of protecting individuals. Like the restraining order a law against private sales only stops those who are concerned about remaining lawful and somebody planning to commit murder is not concerned about remaining lawful.