At Townhall: Why Aren’t Female Victims of Domestic Violence Told the Best Way to Protect Themselves?

Jul 27, 2023 | op-ed

Kerry Slone will soon start as the new director of education for the Crime Prevention Research Center.

On Monday, July 17th, Lance Logan brutally murdered 64-year-old Carolyn Williams in her Hartford, Connecticut, home while she was on the telephone with a 9-1-1 operator. He also beat her 30-year-old son.

“He hit me again . . . . Stop it, stop, it, he has a weapon,” she told the 9-1-1 operator immediately before being murdered. Logan had prior convictions for domestic violence and a number of other felonies. Among his previous convictions was a 2016 domestic assault for which he faced a 5-year suspended sentence and 3-years probation, so he served no prison time.

Logan now faces charges of murder, assault in the second degree, and violation of a protective order. It was illegal for him to own guns, but he still obtained two firearms – a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol. 

The case clearly illustrates the limits of protective orders when someone is intent on murdering the victim. If the murderer is willing to risk a life sentence for murder, an additional five years in prison and a $5,000 fine won’t deter him.

It is an important problem. Reportedly, 76% of women murdered by someone who had been an intimate partner were stalked.

Violence prevention advocates recommend a long list of safety precautions. These changes require women to uproot their lives.

Among the advice: women should change jobs, travel routes, the time of day they leave home or work, move in with a friend or family, change the locks on their home, or do their shopping and other chores with friends or relatives.

A few recommend that women practice martial arts such as judo, jiu-jitsu, karate, or boxing.

But the most obvious answer is missing from these lists: women should get a concealed handgun permit and a firearm.

As a victim of domestic violence who has suffered some broken teeth, fractured bones, and other permanent physical injuries, I am acutely aware of how important it is to protect victims. 

Men are typically much stronger than women, particularly in upper body strength. Unfortunately, real life isn’t like the movies, where one woman can knock out and overpower several well-trained men. Even well-trained women often struggle to defend themselves against much larger and stronger men. Men also tend to be faster runners. 

A firearm represents a much bigger change in a woman’s ability to defend herself. Men can readily hurt women without a gun, and if a woman is already in physical contact with the attacker so that he can take away their gun, they are already in trouble.

The peer-reviewed research shows that murder rates decline when people carry concealed handguns, whether men or women. But a woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about 3 to 4 times more than a man doing the same.

And this message is getting across to women. Between 2012 and 2022, in states that provide data by sex, concealed handgun permits increased 115%more quickly among women than among men. The percentage of women who say that gun ownership protects people from crime has also been growing faster. But while they are growing at a faster rate, women still only make up about 30 percent of permit holders.

Many states could make it much easier for stalked women to defend themselves. Even after taking the required training and applying for a permit, it can often take two to three months for a permit to be issued. 

But even one month may be much too long for a threatened woman. Even women who have proven to a court that they face serious threats must wait to get a permit. One solution would be to allow women with court orders of protection to carry a concealed handgun while waiting for a permit to be issued.

Many single women with children may also find it difficult to pay fees for a permit, plus additional fees for fingerprinting and training. While there are now 27 Constitutional Carry states that don’t require people pay fees or waiting periods to be able to carry a gun, other states such as California can run $250 to $250 for five years, Illinois $150, and New York City $566.70. Training can easily add hundreds more.

Police are very important, but they almost always arrive after the crime occurs. Protective orders can help. But if we are going to be serious about protecting women like Carolyn Williams, we must let them protect themselves.

Kerry Slone, “Why Aren’t Female Victims of Domestic Violence Told the Best Way to Protect Themselves?” Townhall, July 26, 2023