A man with a long history of domestic violence against his wife reportedly shot her and then himself, all in front of their teenage daughter, who was desperately trying to break up their fight. Martina Seeber, 18, saw what no child should ever have to see when her father, Robert, who had been arrested on at least five domestic violence charges and had just completed anger management courses, turned his gun on his wife of 20 years and then himself. But perhaps a new Supreme Court ruling will make tragedies like this less likely.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled that people convicted of even minor domestic violence can be barred from owning a gun. Federal law bars a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving the use of physical force or a deadly weapon from owning a gun. But now the Supreme Court says that this gun ban would also apply to states that don't specify the amount of physical violence needed for a domestic violence conviction. In other words, pushing or shoving could be enough to get you banned from owning a gun -- you don't necessarily have to have broken someone's arm or threatened them with a weapon.
There is absolutely no doubt that a man with a history of domestic violence who owns a gun is a very dangerous person indeed. According to FBI crime data, 94 percent of women who are murdered every year are killed by a man they know, with 61 percent of those murders committed by a man who was a spouse or "intimate acquaintance," i.e., boyfriend or partner. Those are staggering statistics. Basically, women have much less to fear from strange men than men they trust the most!
As Justice Sotomayor wrote in today's ruling:
This country witnesses more than a million acts of domestic violence, and hundreds of deaths from domestic violence, each year. Domestic violence often escalates in severity over time, and the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood that it will escalate to homicide. Congress enacted §922(g)(9), in light of these sobering facts, to "close [a] dangerous loophole" in the gun control laws: While felons had long been barred from possessing guns, many perpetrators of domestic violence are convicted only of misdemeanors.
Well, that loophole has hopefully just been closed.
Was it this misdemeanor classification that allowed Robert Seeber to own guns despite a long history of beating and threatening his wife and his teen daughter, Martina? Why was this man allowed to own at least one shotgun? In all of these incidents, he was reportedly charged with domestic violence and placed on probation. Yet his gun was not taken away from him. It's unclear whether the gun was registered.
Sadly, Lisa had already filed for divorce from her husband -- and even had a restraining order against him. But they once again reconciled, and the order was dropped, as was the divorce filing. She kept giving him more chances.
Here are some sobering words from Lisa Seeber's neighbor:
She always kept her heart open, hoping to make things better with him, and make her marriage work.
Ladies, please take note. You can't make things "work" with men with anger issues and a history of violence who own guns. Get out, get help. Save yourselves and your children.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.
Do you think the guns laws regarding those convicted of domestic violence needed to be tougher?
Image via NBC4