Tag Archives: Nevada domestic violence

He Worked Very Hard and We Wish Him Well…

I’d really hoped not to hear this kind of phrasing coming from the White House today, but… He did it, the President of the United State said of domestic abuser Rob Porter, “He worked very hard and we wish him well.”  (MSNBC) No, that really doesn’t indicate that this Oval Office takes violence against women all that seriously.  I truly don’t care if he was the best paper pusher in the entire Milky Way Galaxy.  He’s a serial domestic abuser.  I really don’t care if he was the best filter of paper and proposals in the Universe. He’s a serial domestic abuser.   And, the President* didn’t take the opportunity to even mention violence against women.  What he said about a serial domestic abuser was that (a) he was gone and (b) the White House wished him well.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Nevada.  The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence issued a report of 2016 statistics (pdf) on the subject, and it’s discouraging to see that there were a total of 64,457 contacts made to authorities/agencies about domestic and sexual violence during that calendar year.  11,197 were repeated contacts.  There were 24,567 “bednights” or overnight shelter provided to adults, and 1,411 provided to children.  There were 13,589 incidents reported to police, resulting in 6,433 arrests.  There were 5,128 cases in which the police were not contacted. There were 23,777 cases in which it is unknown if law enforcement was contacted.  Additionally, there were 18,164 cases in which the referral for possible action is unknown.

It’s not like domestic abuse and sexual violence are issues we can separate from other criminal acts or address with fast/quick solutions. The problem is cyclical:’

“Abuse tends to occur in cycles. It does not just go away and tends to get worse over time. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence typically, but not always, follows a pattern. There is a period of tension building; there is an episode of violence; and there is a time calm, or a “honeymoon” (Hancock, 2012). Research suggests the more severe the violence, the more chronic it is and the more likely it is to worsen over time (Lipsky et al., 2012).”

There is a direct link between domestic abuse and mass shootings:

“…mass shooters killed a partner or family member in 54% of shootings—which are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed by guns. Between January 2009 and December 2016, 422 people were killed in domestic violence disputes; more than 40% of these people were children.” [Fortune]

And women are the most likely victims:

 “Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related; 11.2% of victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the month preceding their deaths, and argument and jealousy were common precipitating circumstances. Targeted IPV prevention programs for populations at disproportionate risk and enhanced access to intervention services for persons experiencing IPV are needed to reduce homicides among women.”  (IPV = Intimate Partner Violence) [CDC]

Yes, to that last point because the 5th leading cause of death for women between the ages of 18-44 is homicide.  So, we should be taking the issue of domestic and sexual violence seriously because it’s a leading cause of death among women in the prime of their lives, because it’s part of an escalating cycle of violence, one that too often leads to the kinds of mass shooting which shock the senses.  And, no, I do not wish the perpetrators “well.” I wish for police intervention, legal consequences, the collection of comprehensive statistics, the development and implementation of prevention programs, and the closing of the “boyfriend loophole” for the procurement of firearms.

No more — no more excuses, no more attempts at amelioration, no more minimizing the problem, no more … Time’s Up.

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Domestic Violence is Everyone’s Business: Just Perhaps Not The State of Nevada’s Business?

Domestic violence costs $8.3 billion in expenses annually: a combination of higher medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion).” [Forbes]

In the same year this quotation appeared in Forbes magazine, the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reported 58,582 contacts concerning  domestic violence in the state. 37,439 of them were first time contacts, another 13,670 were “repeats,” and there were 7,473 follow up contacts. [FY2012-13 pdf]  In the next annual report there were a total of 61,229 contacts; 38,042 initial, 15,165 repeats, and 8,022 follow ups. [FY 2013-2014 pdf]  The calendar year report for 2014 shows  a total of 65,026 contacts, 40,927 first time, 15,534 repeats, and 8,565 follow ups. [CYR 2014 pdf]

DV victims total We also know that in calendar year 2014 the primary victims were most often women (38,145) as contrasted to men (2,782).  We can also infer from the numbers that they are in the age range 18-64, or during the years in which they are most likely to be employed.

Indeed, some 9,119 of the primary victims were someone’s full time or part time employee.  Perhaps what we can’t know is how many of those in the unemployed category were women who were isolated in abusive domestic

DV victims employment statussituations where they were forbidden to work outside the home, or in some instances to have only very tenuous contacts with those outside the house.

What we can know, and do, is that in national terms we are losing an estimated $2.5 Billion annually in lost productivity costs. Domestic violence contributes to lost wages and reduced earnings, it impeded  the victim’s job advancement, and compromises safety for the employees and their co-workers. [BBoston]   That $2.5 billion also includes time lost as the victims miss work, arrive late or have to leave work early to care for themselves or other family members.

A Fall 2000 report for the State Attorney General’s office (pdf)  outlines recommendations for employers to mitigate the effects of domestic violence: (1) condition perpetrators’ continuing employment on remaining non-violent; (2) intervene against stalkers in the workplace; (3) safeguard battered employees’ employment and careers by providing flexible schedules, leaves of absence, and establishing enlightened personnel policies; (4) provide employment security to battered employees; (5) provide available resources to support and advocate for battered employees.

A follow up report “Nevada Domestic Violence Prevention Council Domestic Violence and the Workplace:  A Toolkit for Employers,” (pdf) was issued by former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.  This document links to the Workplaces Respond (to domestic and sexual violence) model policy guidelines to implement the recommendations set forth in the 2000 report.   The model policy guidelines would work well for moderate to large sized businesses, what isn’t clear is how many employers in Nevada have  clearly stated and implemented domestic violence prevention and mitigation policies in their personnel manuals. For that matter, it’s difficult to determine precisely what the state is doing – assuming that the state should function as as example for other entities to follow.

Let’s look at the  the model policy and compare it to the State Personnel Manual.  The Model Policy includes the following:

“[Employer] recognizes that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence may need time off to obtain or attempt to obtain a restraining order or any other legal assistance to help ensure his or her health, safety, or welfare or that of his or her child. [Employer] will work in collaboration with the employee to provide reasonable and flexible leave options when an employee or his or her child is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and/or stalking. [Employer] will work with employee to provide paid leave first before requiring an employee to utilize unpaid leave.”  [Model Policy]

Here’s an exercise. (1) Download the State of Nevada’s Employee Handbook. (pdf)  (2) Type <Cntrl F>  (3) Type “Domestic” in the inquiry box.”  If you don’t want to do this yourself then you’ll have to trust that I found 5 instances of the term “domestic” anywhere in the document.  The first concerns insurance benefits, the second concerns domestic partner benefits, the third concerns survivor benefits, the fourth is in the same paragraph as the third, and the fifth finally gets around to the issue at hand:

“ The personal safety and health of each employee is of primary importance. It is the responsibility of all employees to support safety and health programs by reporting any threats received or restraining orders granted against a disgruntled spouse, domestic partner, acquaintance, or others. You must report all incidents of direct or indirect threats and actual violent events to a supervisor, and the matter will be treated seriously. A direct or indirect threat and/or actual violence will be documented and reported to both the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Administration, Risk Management Division using the report form found on their website http://risk.nv.gov/LP/WV/. All incidents will be immediately investigated and appropriate action taken. (NAC 284.646-284.650)”

The link takes you to the Risk Management site.  In short, the Nevada policy manual for employees addresses workplace violence, but not necessarily violence which takes place “off campus.”  Yes, workplace violence should be taken seriously. Yes, domestic violence all too often translates to workplace violence; but NO the State of Nevada has not adopted personnel guidelines which would put a dent in those lost productivity, lost career advancement, lost earnings and wages columns that plague other institutions?

Comparing the Model Policy with the State Employee Handbook, the Model Policy calls for collaborative efforts to assist a victim of domestic violence get a restraining order or legal assistance.  The victim should give the employer a reasonable amount of time to juggle schedules or fill in when calling in, and the employer should make every effort to secure the legal protections which may be necessary.

The State Handbook does address what happens after the battery.

“If you are a full-time employee, you earn 10 hours (1¼ working days) of sick leave for each month of full-time service. Part-time employees earn a prorated amount based on full-time equivalent service. Sick leave can be used as soon as it is accrued. (NRS 284.355, NAC 284.113, 284.5415) You may only use sick leave for authorized reasons. Authorized reasons for using sick leave are: an inability to work because of illness or injury, incapacity due to pregnancy or childbirth, medical and dental appointments, family illness (subject to some limitations), and death in the immediate family.”

Apparently, about as close as the state gets to addressing the needs of a battered person to secure legal or technical assistance, is:

“An employee does not need to use this leave entitlement in one block. Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis.”  (emphasis added)

If we put this all together we have a situation in which (1) Nevada obviously has issues regarding domestic violence in the State; (2) Domestic violence has ramifications beyond the medical and legal costs associated with it and has an impact on earning power, career advancement, and productivity; (3) Nevada has at least two publications endorsing and promoting positive measures employers may take to reduce the medical, legal, and economic impact of domestic violence; and (4) Nevada doesn’t include policies designed to assist victims of domestic violence in its own Personnel Manual.

What’s wrong with this picture?

References: Weller, “Covering Domestic Violence: A Guide for Informed Media Reporting in Nevada, (pdf)  State of Nevada Employee Handbook, Department of Administration, Division of Human Resource Management, (pdf)  National Resource Center – Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence, Model Workplace Policy.   Catherine Cortez Masto, AttyGen, “Nevada Domestic Violence Prevention Council Domestic Violence and the Workplace: A Toolkit for Employers.” (pdf) Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence: Statewide Statistics FY July 2013-June 2014. (pdf) NNADV Calendar Year Report Jan.-Dec. 2014 (pdf) NNADV. org general resources and web site; statistics.

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Silver Bullets and Straw Man Arguments: Gun Legislation in Nevada (Updated)

OK Corral Here we go again.  Another spate of gun violence yields another editorial assault on common sense gun regulation from conservative sources, this time the editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal.  The title says it all, “Expanded gun background checks not a cure all.”  There are at least a couple of things wrong with this argument.  First, it’s a straw man argument. No one is claiming that universal background checks will cure the American violence problem.  The claim is that closing the gun-show loophole and requiring background checks for sales to non-family members will reduce the probability of gun violence.  Secondly, as the editorial itself acknowledges, background checks can prevent gun sales to domestic abusers.

Even this legislation, SB 175, didn’t really go far enough, and in some respects represents a step backward in terms of controlling access to firearms.  Those guilty of domestic violence, who are subject to an extended order of protection, are forbidden from purchasing or otherwise acquiring a firearm during the period the order of protection is in effect. To get this small attempt at controlling firearm access by domestic abusers, meant the NRA won state control of all gun related issues, county concealed carry permits in Clark County went by the wayside, and expanded language was added to liability in instances in which a “reasonable person might be afraid” for his or her life.

The second logical issue with the editorial is good old fashioned circular reasoning.  The authors logic appears to be that (1) effective background checks require efficient offender databases; (2) Nevada has an inefficient offender data base system; therefore (3) Nevada cannot have effective background checks.  This logic works IF one is prepared to skip blithely over the question of how to make the Nevada offender data base more efficient – and is perilously close to the old Undistributed Middle.

And then comes the perfectly predictable: “Regardless, as has been shown countless times, criminals are not going to follow any gun control law.”  So, if we extrapolate this to its obvious, and much referenced conclusion, there is no reason to enact sanctions against bank robbery and bear baiting because criminals are not going to follow the law?

Now back to the Domestic Violence issue.  What was gained by victims of domestic abuse in SB 175? Answer: Precious Little. [DB April 2015]  Under Section 5 of the bill a domestic abuser (the Adverse Party) was forbidden to purchase firearms for the duration of an extended order of protection.  Please recall that Nevada has two types of restraining orders, temporary and extended, and it can take up to 45 days to get an extended order. [NRS 33.031]   Meanwhile, the statistics are available for the period from April to June 2015. (pdf)

Between April and June 2015, there were 16,245 “contacts” made by authorities concerning domestic violence, and 10,637 were “first time,” another 3,537 were “repeats,” and there were 2,071 “follow up contacts.” Of the 10,637 victims 9,938 were women (93.4%), 699 were men (4.27%).  The age of the victim was not reported in 4,316 instances.  There were 1,479 female victims between the ages of 18-29; 2,577 female victims between the ages of 30-44; and, 1,193 female victims between the ages of 45-64.  Arrests were made in 1,490 cases, no arrest was made in 1,648 cases, and 135 cases are pending.  During the period between April and June 2015 there were 3,327 temporary orders of protection prepared.  2,402 temporary orders of protection/restraining orders were provided.

Assuming that law enforcement and the judicial system were functioning effectively, we had 2,402 cases in a three month period in which it was determined that the victim – most likely a woman – was deserving of a temporary order of protection.  However, the “adverse party” would be free to retain possession of firearms during the length of the temporary order, and for 45 days until an extended order of protection could be issued.

These numbers take on some urgency when put in the context of domestic violence in Nevada.  Back in 2012 25 of the 84 homicides within Las Vegas police jurisdiction were related to domestic violence, the numbers were worse in 2013 when 33 of 105 homicides were related to domestic disputes. [LVRJ]

More alarming still, the national report published by USA Today, on mass killings and family problems.  We have a “mass killing” about every two weeks (since 2006);  the FBI counted 172 between 2006 and 2011.  These numbers may be an undercount because of erroneous and excluded cases, leaving the FBI with a 57% accuracy rate.  And here comes the disturbing part:  Of those mass killings, in 53% the victims were family members. (Other 21%, Public 15%, Robbery/Burglary related 11%) A break up of some kind is the tipping point in 1 out of every 4 mass killings that aren’t connected to strangers, gang violence, or a robbery gone wrong. One in four victims were close family members, children, siblings, spouses, etc. In 77% of the mass killings the weapon used was a gun.  One-third of the victims were under the age of 18; and, 75% of the guns involved were handguns.

The USA Today report drilled down further: semi-automatic hand guns were involved in 49.6% of the shootings; handgun/revolver in 22.4%; and automatic pistols in 0.9%.  Single shot rifles were used in 9.5%; semi-automatic rifles in 8.6%; and automatic rifles in 0.4% of the cases. A shotgun was used in 8.6% of the deadly events.  One third of the perpetrators will be dead at the scene.

It’s certainly true, a domestic abuser will resort to whatever weapon may be at hand from guns to kitchen knives to baseball bats and to manual strangulation… however, as these statistics suggest the outcome is more likely to be deadly if a firearm is involved.

So, should the “little woman” be armed, does the gun in the home constitute an “equalizer?” The answer is no.

“A recent meta-analysis concluded what many people already knew: the availability of firearms is a strong risk factor for both homicide and suicide. But the study came to another conclusion that is rarely mentioned in the gun control debate: females are uniquely impacted by the availability of a firearm. Indeed, the study found that women with access to firearms become homicide victims at significantly higher rates than men.

It has long been recognized that higher rates of gun availability correlate with higher rates of female homicide. Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world, even though they make up only a third of the developed world’s female population. And within American borders, women die at higher rates from suicide, homicide, and accidental firearm deaths in states where guns are more widely available This is true even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.” [LATimes]

In another study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers interviewed 417 women across 67 battered women’s shelters. Nearly a third of these women had lived in a household with a firearm. In two-thirds of the homes, their intimate partners had used the gun against them, usually threatening to kill (71.4 percent) them. A very small percentage of these women (7 percent) had used a gun successfully in self-defense, and primarily just to scare the attacking male partner away. Indeed, gun threats in the home against women by their intimate partners appear to be more common across the United States than self-defense uses of guns by women. [LATimes]

Another large case-control study compared women who were murdered by their intimate partner with a control group of battered women. Only 16 percent of the women who had been abused, but not murdered, had guns in their homes, whereas 51 percent of the murder victims did. In fact, not a single study to date has shown that the risk of any crime including burglary, robbery, home invasion, or spousal abuse against a female is decreased through gun ownership. Though there are examples of women using a gun to defend themselves, they are few and far between, and not statistically significant. [LATimes]

Thus much for the advocacy of yet more guns, and yet more permits to be able to conceal those guns?  And yet more reason to take note of the statistics on domestic violence, the presence of guns in unstable households, and the need to remove firearms from volatile domestic situations.

Questions Remain

  • When do the NRA talking points asserting there is no magic single solution to gun violence become stale and hackneyed?  When does the public come to understand that this is a straw man argument which does little good for the safety of the state and the families residing in this state?
  • When does the profoundly illogical argument that because something might be difficult, or even require more effort, that the desired outcome (less gun violence) is therefore impossible, become a clear example of circular reasoning and unfounded assertion?
  • When do we act on the statistics which strongly suggest that the presence of a firearm in a home increases the probability of lethal domestic violence and suicide? Not to mention tragic incidents involving children.
  • When do we take into consideration the fact that there are some 45 days under Nevada law during which a domestic abuser is free to retain firearms, indeed, free to obtain more “firepower” during that period?
  • What additional arguments must be made before those who advocate for zero restrictions on firearm ownership/possession understand that in a civilized society the temporary removal of firearms from a volatile domestic situation doesn’t mean there is a violation of a Constitutional right?

Update: The Violence Policy Center released its national report today. Nevada is 5th in the nation in female homicide rate.

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Domestic Violence: When do the excuses stop?

Domestic Violence

This weekend a domestic violence issue in Texas transitioned into an assault on the Dallas Police Department. Early reports give every impression of a man, out of control in every way imaginable, extending his personal sense of outrage to his local law enforcement authorities.  “After the shootout at police headquarters, the suspect called 911 and gave a four- to five-minute rant, accusing of police of being to blame for him losing custody of a child,…” [CNN]

There was an incident in Montana last week that barely attracted much attention at all.  Augustine Bournes killed his wife and three children, June 11, 2015.  The children were all under the age of 6.  He set fire to their home, and then took his own life. [NYDN]   He was “anti-government and unhappy with his life.”  There’s a term for this pathology: Family Annihilators.  Pehaps the most tragic comment about the incident came from a relative: “People tried to tell him he needed to get help,” 35-year-old Starla Shannon said Wednesday. “He said he’d rather go to a vet than a doctor.”

There’s no question the Family Annihilators and the Public Attack Perpetrators are a distinct minority subset of those who commit or are involved in domestic violence.  However, they do set the peg for the extreme end of the spectrum.

The Excuses

Unfortunately for any rational discussion, the peg is inserted in swampy terrain, territory in which men are supposedly victimized by a culture that no longer provides Hollywood staple John Wayne-esque characters as role models (as if that were a model to be emulated), or fears of the expressions of male sexuality (as if ‘a little groping just happens naturally’ down at the garage), or Big Government obscures the origins of the “true source of oppression, (whatever in the world that might mean), or men’s natural expression of free speech is truncated by feminine criticism of those who don’t understand that ‘privilege’ begets a perspective which doesn’t necessarily include the lives of women or minorities.   There are other supposedly “pro male” excuses for male disaffection, such as the “lie” about equal pay; because it is said men work at more dangerous jobs? (Missing the point that the call is for equal pay for equal work, the last portion being conveniently omitted.

And then we get to the domestic arrangements – wherein women falsely accused men of rape, and women get the benefit of the doubt in court in terms of child custody and alimony or child support payments.

The Delusions

“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which in fact, never existed.” [Robert Kennedy, Chicago, 1963]

Okay, in 763 BC the Romans adopted the Law of Chastisement, allowing husbands to beat their wives, and in the 14th century the Church advised a little spousal abuse for her “spiritual improvement.”  However,  we also know that by 1600 there were shelters for women – they called them convents.  In 1871 both Alabama and Massachusetts declared wife beating a crime. [StM]   Thus, if a wife abuser is seeking a “comfortable past” be advised it hasn’t exists in the last 144 years.

Another useless excuse is that “they – meaning women – do it too!” The misogynists among us are fond of providing statistics which “prove” women are also engaged in spousal and domestic abuse.  The stuffing comes out of this straw man quickly.  No one is saying all spousal abuse is done by men – but a sizable proportion of it certainly is.

A study of the reports of intimate partner violence between 1994 and 2010 found that 4 out of 5 victims were female. [NDVH]  The American Bar Association’s study of domestic violence found that:

(1) “Access to firearms yields a more than five-fold increase in risk of intimate partner homicide when considering other factors of abuse, according to a recent study, suggesting that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.”

(2) “Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.”

Therefore, we should rid ourselves of the delusions that (1) slapping the little lady around is good for them because the Romans did it; (2) it’s just as bad for men; and (3) a gun in the home will make things safer.

Home Not So Sweet Home

Nevada could do a much better job of preventing the instances of domestic and intimate partner violence, and violence against women and families in general. Our current statistics could use some improvement. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reported that for 2014 there were 65,026 contacts; 40,927 were for the first time; 15,534 were repeats; and 8,565 were follow ups. 1,091 adults needed shelter for 22,040 ‘bednights.’ 1,178 children were sheltered for 26,390 bednights. Most of the adults sheltered were between the ages of 30 and 44. Among those sheltered 12,096 were Caucasian, 3,396 were African American, and 7,725 were Hispanic.  Those numbers provide some context for the trauma.  Other numbers illustrate the strain on the system

Law enforcement was contacted 12,999 times, arrests were made 6,830 times. In 5,589 incidents arrests were not made. Police reports were made 481 times, temporary orders of protection were issued 11,354 times.  There were 4,520 court appointments, and 18,540 individual counseling sessions.

Looking for Solutions

First, and foremost, let’s make an attempt to alleviate the problem of escalating domestic violence by enacting common sense gun laws.

Local law enforcement authorities should have the power to immediately remove firearms from any home in which they have been called to deal with an incident of domestic violence – for their own safety if nothing else. [TCJ] [KMGH]  And, for the safety of the spouses and children the firearms should be locked up in police custody during the period covered by an order of protection.

Background checks should be expanded to private and gun show sales, and should include any records of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment.  No firearms should be sold to any person who is currently under a restraining order – temporary or extended.

Funds should be appropriated to adequately staff those agencies which keep records of criminal behavior, including incidents of domestic violence, the adjudication of mental health status, and the approval of temporary and extended orders of protection.

The state should require that all firearms in a home be kept locked when not in the immediate process of being maintained.

If we can take some small steps to create a safer environment for women and children, then we can better consider how to develop strategies for improving our society.  It would be helpful if we’d think beyond the extreme forms of firearm violence (Columbine, Va Tech, etc. or Montana and Dallas) and improve the way we deliver the message about violence and its results in general terms.  For example, behaviors like bullying are unacceptable, whether it’s bullying members of minority groups, women, or children.  Period.  Every school, public and private alike, should be required to update and upgrade their anti-bullying policies.

Getting a better grip on history wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  Yes, 14th century Europeans were encouraged to “beat the women” but those aren’t the best role models.  Edward I of England was a fearsome warrior with a sound reputation on the battlefield, and a person known for being troublesome if not downright petulant.  However, when it came to his domestic life things were quite different.  His marriage in 1254 to Eleanor of Castile was by all accounts a genuine life-long romance. Her death at Harby in November 1290 left him devastated.  Some of the visible reminders of his love and loss can still be seen in that country – as in Charing Cross (Chere Reine, or Beloved Queen).  There are far better role models available throughout history, even European medieval,  than the thuggish peasant “improving his wife.”

At the extreme, the Montana family annihilator would rather have gone to a veterinarian than a psychiatrist – and that’s a sad tale in itself.  We’ve done a relatively poor job of diminishing the stigma attached to mental illnesses in this country. We could and should do better.  No one would sit around contemplating whether to get treatment for a broken arm – why would or should anyone not seek treatment for a broken mind?  We’d not let a person with a dangerously high fever stay away from a hospital – so why do we not have services immediately available for family members who are coping with a person who is experiencing mental instability?  And, those services should be provided in a setting which isn’t the county jail!

Stop letting the perfect become the enemy of the possible or even the pragmatic.  Opponents of common sense gun regulation, those who don’t wish to make the investment in mental health care services, and even those who have mistakenly analogized boorishness for masculinity, repeat the mantra that “it (whatever solution is proposed) won’t prevent tragedies from happening.  True. However, that doesn’t negate the improvements which could be made if we’d try.  Laws against bank robbery don’t prevent the criminals among us from trying, but they do provide for a place to put them when they are caught.  Increasing the number of mental health care facilities and programs will not provide 100% security – but it would be better than what we have at the moment. And, providing anti-bullying and anger management programs and projects at an early age won’t mean that some erratic person won’t engage in violent behavior – but the incidents prevented before they ever happen will reduce the strain on our educational, police, and health care services.

A productive perspective will do more to accomplish the reduction in domestic violence and related homicides than sitting stone silent wrapped in the fear a solution might not produce 100% success.  Franklin Roosevelt had two sentences for that:

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

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Protecting Nevada Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking: We Could Be Doing A Better Job

By almost any common sense standard Ronald E. Haskell should not have had a firearm. By almost any ethical standard he should not have had access to a firearm considering his past behavior towards his ex-wife, and by any moral standard he should not have taken his gun and assassinated six people in Spring, TX, and attempted to murder a seventh. There are three pieces of legislation in Congress which might have prevented this tragedy — and all three are opposed by the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers who support it.  [MJ]

It doesn’t do to sit out here in the Nevada sage brush and lament the problems far away in Texas without considering our own situation in regard to domestic violence and gun ownership.

In 2011, 35% of female homicide victims were killed during a domestic violence incident, and firearms accounted for the deaths of 214 women between 2001 and 2010. [CAP pdf] Let’s approach this rationally.

First, do we have a problem with domestic violence in the State?  Figures from the Nevada Department of Public Safety may indicate that we do. The latest general report available online (pdf) shows the number of domestic violence incidents — of all types — increasing during the period from 2000 to 2005.  There were 20,653 DVIs in 2000, followed by 26,417 in 2001. There were 26,691 in 2002 and another 27,915 in 2003.  2004 totals were 29,233 and in 2005 there were 31,247.  Evidently, things didn’t get much better by 2009.

When the Violence Policy Center rated states according to females murdered by males in single victim homicides by rate, Nevada came up #1, with a 2.70, beating out Alabama with a 2.64 rate and Louisiana with a rate of 1.99. [VPC pdf]  The Nevada Legislature took some serious steps to correct the dismal statistics in the early 2000’s in 2007, [DB] and we have seen some improvement.

Happily, by 2011 the Nevada ranking had dropped to 16th with a rating of 1.48. [VPC pdf] The bad news is that this ranking is still in the “Top 20” nationally. We obviously have room for improvement to reach Illinois at 0.27, Massachusetts at 0.53, and Vermont at 0.36. [VPC pdf]  We do know that during the period 2003 and 2012 there were 221 domestic violence homicides in Nevada and 52.9% of the fatalities were caused by guns. [CAP pdf]  There are some steps we could take to improve our numbers.

What can be done to improve the situation?  As noted many times in this venue, Nevada should have universal background checks to determine if any of the categories of persons who are proscribed from firearm ownership are attempting to purchase weaponry.   The sorry history of S. 221 was most recently discussed here in an article about the Background Check Initiative.  In short, without at least a cursory background check there is little way to determine if the buyer is subject to the restrictions on firearm possession set forth in NRS 33.031 and NRS 33.033.

The permissive language in NRS 33.031 is also a potential loophole through which a miscreant could retain or acquire firearms.  The statute says, “a court MAY include” within an NRS 33.030 extended restraining order the provision that the “adverse party” will surrender firearms, and cannot possess them while the order is in effect.  In order to attach this proviso, the court must decide that the “adverse party” has a (1) documented history of domestic violence, (2) Has used or threatened to use a firearm to injure or harass the applicant, a minor child or any other person, or (3) Has used a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of any crime.  First, it doesn’t appear that this provision can be applied during a temporary restraining order — the first one issued after the violent incident.  Secondly, the firearm surrender requirement is spoken of only in terms of the extended order of protection.  Granted this gives the “adverse party” some representational rights, since the temporary order might not include the presence of our “adverse party,” in court.  However, it also presents some practical issues.

A Nevada Court has one “judicial” day to consider a temporary restraining order of protection, but it has 45 days in the instance of an application for an extended order. [NRS 33.020]  Thus we have a potential circumstance in which a person with a documented history of domestic violence, one who has used or threatened to shoot the applicant, the children, or others, or has already used a firearm in the commission of a crime — has more than a month of “free” firearm possession in this State. That’s certainly sufficient time for the “adverse party” to locate and endanger the remainder of the family.

One possible solution to the problem might be to eliminate the permissive “may”  from the provisions regarding an extended order of protection and simply say that if the “adverse party” meets the three criteria then law enforcement “will” take custody of the individual’s firearms.  Additionally, if the court finds that there is ample evidence of previous incidents of domestic violence, or clear and present danger from immediate threats, then it “may” remove the firearms during the period covered by the temporary restraining order.

There is no intent in this suggestion to permanently deprive any individual of his 2nd Amendment entertainment devices, merely to secure them while a domestic situation remains volatile.  Nor is this a “blank check” for government to “take guns away” without Constitutional protections — the permissive language (may) pertaining to the temporary restraining order gives the court some latitude to determine the extent of the volatility, and to protect the victim, and, to no small extent, protect our “adverse party” from doing something in the heat of the moment he might regret for the rest of his life.

There is also some elasticity in Nevada laws which place some women and children at risk.  NRS 200.575 discusses stalking, which is a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a gross misdemeanor for the second.  Nevada adds a category of “aggravated stalking:”

“A person who commits the crime of stalking and in conjunction therewith threatens the person with the intent to cause the person to be placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm commits the crime of aggravated stalking. A person who commits the crime of aggravated stalking shall be punished for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 15 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.”

It is only when the stalker adds threats of death and substantial bodily harm that he would be committing a felony, and thus ineligible to possess firearms under Nevada law.  This sounds reasonable until we run into the problematic nature of stalker mentalities.  After a conviction for a first and second offense the individual may still acquire firearms, if the victim can’t prove a fear of “death or substantial bodily harm,” beyond a reasonable doubt.  The background check would not exclude the individual unless he’s already convicted of felonious, or “aggravated” stalking since stalking convictions are misdemeanors for the first two offenses.

Another suggestion:  Make the imposition of an order of protection mandatory in all cases of stalking. In the instance of a first conviction the court “may” include the surrender of firearms in the order, and “shall” include it in the case of a second conviction; especially if the stalking is done to the same victim as in the first case.   Current law (NRS 200.591) permits a court to issue a temporary or extended order of protection but doesn’t require it.  Might women and families be safer if the temporary order were applied for the first offense, with the provision that the court “may” include the surrender of deadly weapons?  They would certainly seem to be safer if an extended order was immediately applied after the second conviction, and proscribed the possession of firearms for the duration of the order.

The slippage in the system comes, of course, when there is no background check required for all gun sales, such that after the misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions the stalker can simply purchase a firearm at a gun show and move on to the felony he may have been contemplating.

Spare me the “law abiding citizens” argument from the 2nd Amendment extremists.  A person who commits domestic violence has broken the law. A person who stalks another person in the state of Nevada has broken the law.  This is not law-abiding behavior.  When a person’s behavior is classified as a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, or a class B felony — it is not law-abiding. Period.

Spare me the “Big Plot To Take Guns” argument. No one is speaking of temporary or extended orders of protection which deprive the non-law-abiding of their 2nd Amendment playthings in perpetuity. When the stalker hits the B Felony grade he’s done it to himself; if he’s still in the misdemeanor range the surrender of firearms lasts only as long as the orders of protection.

And, finally, spare us the misery of a rendition of the Spring, TX massacre in the Silver State.

 

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, women, Women's Issues

We’re Number One! Female Murder Victims in Nevada

Domestic Violence RibbonOne of the bills stalled in the Do Absolutely Nothing 112th Congress of the United States of America is the Violence Against Women Act.  The Senate version extends the protections of the Act to LGBT citizens, Native Americans, and immigrants.  The GOP leadership of the  House of Representatives objects to the extensions.  [CDThe objections are spurious.  However, that doesn’t prevent the bill from being stalled, and the Next Great Big Debt Crisis — which evidently wasn’t a problem for the Bush Administration “Deficits Don’t Matter” crowd — is chewing up the air time on the cable news networks.  Meanwhile, we have a real economic problem on our hands — domestic violence.

Intimate partner violence is expensive.  We’ve known this since the 2003 Center for Disease Control report. (pdf)

“The costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total costs of IPV also include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal IPV and $0.9  billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of IPV homicide. The largest proportion of the costs is derived from physical assault victimization because that type of IPV is the most prevalent. The largest component of IPV-related costs is health care, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total costs.”

So, as of 2003 the price tag for domestic violence was $5.8 billion annually, and the price tag for the health care component was $4.1 billion.  Want to help bring down health care costs in this country, then reduce the instances of domestic violence!

For those who persist in speaking of the issue as a police matter, or a “woman’s issue,” consider the following information from that 2003 CDC study:

Domestic Violence Losses

As of nine years ago we were pitching the equivalent of 32,114 full time jobs in the dust bin because women lost valuable work days due to incidents of domestic violence.

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence updated the numbers and reported that as of 2005, “The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year.”   That, of course, is $727.8 million that doesn’t add anything to the national economy every year.

If we could delve only in the realm of national, and therefore generalized, statistics Nevadans might be more comfortable.  However, the Silver State has a problem according to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto:

“Victims of domestic violence comprise the largest crime victim category in Nevada. Although domestic violence is significantly underreported and statistics are incomplete, the Nevada Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report for 2009 reported 29,091 female victims and 12,060 children present at incidents of domestic violence. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reports that 42,877 first-time victims received services from domestic violence programs in fiscal year 2010-11.” [LVSun]

The numbers sting more when they’re describing what is going on in this state alone.   The sting is even greater when reading headlines like this one: “Nevada Ranks #1 in Rate of Women Murdered by Men for Third Year in a Row According to VPC Study Released Annually for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.”   That’s right… We’re Number One… in the rate of women murdered by men for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW.  But wait, the news actually gets worse.

“The state has held the top position for five of the last six years. The annual VPC report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The study uses the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report and is released each year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Ranked behind Nevada (2.62) were: South Carolina at 2 with a rate of 1.94 per 100,000; Tennessee at 3 with a rate of 1.91 per 100,000; Louisiana at 4 with a rate of 1.86 per 100,000; Virginia at 5 with a rate of 1.77 per 100,000; Texas at 6 with a rate of 1.75 per 100,000; New Mexico at 7 with a rate of 1.63 per 100,000; Hawaii at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; Arizona at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; and, Georgia at 10 with a rate of 1.61 per 100,000. Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single offender instances was 1.22 per 100,000.” [VPC] (emphasis added)

We can extrapolate that the national trends might apply to the Nevada cases.  For example, 94% of the victims knew their attackers.  Of the victims who knew their attackers, 65% were murdered by husbands or intimate partners.  70% of the murders were accomplished with a firearm, followed by the use of knives or cutting instruments (20%), bodily force (12%), and the ubiquitous “blunt object” was the implement of choice in about 7% of the homicides.  (full study, pdf link)

For once, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) didn’t sign on to the misogynistic agenda of some of his GOP colleagues, and he joined the Democratic majority in the Senate voting in favor of the renewed VAWA. [LVSun] Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) voted with the 67 other Senators who favored the renewal of the act.   Sometimes being Number One isn’t the place to be.

Congressman Joe Heck was eager to trumpet his vote for the VAWA, however it was the watered down House version (H.R. 4970), with no protection for immigrant women, LGBT citizens, and Native American women.  [NVProg]  Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV2) tapped danced around the issue of tribal jurisdiction over rapes and assaults perpetrated on tribal lands, and supported the House version of the bill.  What might their positions be on the ‘real’ VAWA bill, S. 1925?

They, and their cohorts in the U.S. House of Representatives will have to work quickly to deal with the back-load of bills piling up, especially given that they are only scheduled to be in session for 126 days next year.

One of those precious days should really be devoted to the loss of the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs, the loss of at least $727.8 million to the economy every year, and to the $5.8 billion in health care costs attributable to domestic violence.   Perhaps then Nevada could lose the dubious honor of being “Number One?”

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Filed under Economy, violence, Women's Issues