Police should protect, rather than jail victims

In a case of selective law enforcement, an Orlando, Florida woman has been arrested for theft after turning over her abusive husband’s guns to police.

Courtney Irby’s husband Joseph Irby had been charged with domestic violence-aggravated battery. He was in jail for a day for ramming her car after a June 14 divorce hearing. Courtney had been granted a temporary order for protection.

According to federal law, people under domestic violence restraining order are not supposed to possess guns. All too often, domestic assault turns to tragedy and murder when guns are around. But it is up to local police to enforce that law and collect the guns.

Courtney Irby, concerned about her safety, retrieved an assault rifle and a handgun from her husband’s apartment while he was in jail, and turned them over to police. Police charged her with armed burglary and grand theft, and she spent six days in jail while awaiting trial.

According to news reports, this has become a flashpoint in the gun debate. Gun safety advocates and domestic violence prevention workers want the charges dropped against Mrs. Irby, while gun rights groups are demanding she be convicted for interfering with her husband’s constitutional right to bear arms.

The old saying says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Police confiscating the guns in this case would help prevent the violence in this marriage from escalating. Courtney Irby should have been able to go to them for help and protection. Instead she wound up in jail.

The injustice of this situation is appalling. Orlando police should do their job to protect victims of domestic abuse, not jail them.

COMMENTS