Friday, February 26, 2016

Restraining Orders: Far from Bulletproof

ABC's news headline reads:

Kansas Gunman Issued Restraining Order at Scene of Deadly Shooting Before Killings . . . .

The story underscores the fact that a restraining order represents a judge's declaration on paper. As such, it cannot in and of itself compel compliance. I has no more power to physically restrain someone of violent intent than one of those "Gun Free Zone" signs.

Worse, as Gavin DeBecker has pointed out in his book The Gift of Fear, restraining orders too often precipitate the very violence they assay to prevent. An article by Steve Albrecht in Psychology Today, "Do Domestic Restraining Orders Ever Work?" concurs:

 Restraining orders work really well for good rule followers in general, and for those who fear the consequences of violating the order in particular. Sadly, most dv suspects have already proven they are not good rule followers and don’t always fear the police, arrest, jail, prison, or even death by their own hands or via the police. Someone who says, “If I can’t have you, no one else will,” and means it, is not often deterred by papers, even when they are handed to them through the screen of a patrol car or betwixt the bars at jail. 

If you fear for your safety or that of your family, you need to strongly consider using more than a piece of paper as your first line of defense. The labels at the bottom of this post will take you to some relevant articles.

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