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Having “the conversation”

It’s often been said–sometimes seriously, sometimes in playful jest–that you can’t choose your family. I’ve been blessed more than most, in that my brothers both married better than they deserve to wonderful ladies, and my in-laws are a very tight, playful, and loving bunch.

I do have a friend married to a manic-depressive and jealous man prone to fits of rage in which he delivers withering verbal assaults, and on at least one occasion, physical violence towards her.

Getting any more specific into their circumstances is irrelevant, but their relationship has deteriorated to the point that she is living with her parents with their kids, and may be contemplating taking the legal steps to end their relationship.

He owns an inexpensive pistol (a Cobra, maybe?) and has made statements that I interpret as threats of physical violence. We have very real concerns that if she does move forward with legal separation and divorce, that he will attempt to harm her and perhaps her children and her parents as well.

I’m now contemplating a conversation that I dread having.

They are wonderful people, but view guns as repulsive and possibly animate objects filled with evil. My friend is more open to the idea (especially because she wants to protect her kids), but has no experience or training.

I would like to try to convince all three of them to get some firearms training (NRA Home Firearm Safety, First Steps Pistol, Personal Defense in the Home) and keep a revolver in a small safe in their home “just in case.”

My sis-in-law would be the primary target of his rage, I’d like to encourage her to take the range’s concealed carry course, and Personal Protection Outside of the Home. in case he decides to confront her at work.

I’d be more than willing to pay for all of the training and associated hardware, from guns to safes to holsters and ammo.

But how do you broach the subject of training to use lethal force with retired adults that have associated guns with evil, violence, and crime for their entire lives?  I’m hoping someone out there has an idea of the right way to have this conversation.

I’m stumped.

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Posted in Crime, Handguns, Training.

3 Responses

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  1. Rob says

    You’re right, initiating any type of proceeding such as divorce or custody cases in a domestic violence situation is when things can get very dangerous. While I firmly believe that they should take steps to learn more about firearms and self defense, there are a few steps to take before hand to try to ensure their safety.

    1. You really need to go over detailed safety planning with them. Safety planning is somewhat akin to what we may refer to as situational awareness and preparedness, but regardless, it is the first step to take in these situations. Going over detailed safety planning with them may also help to reinforce just how serious the situation is and help you with a later conversation on armed self defense. I would also recommend that your friend contact the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. There she can get information on local services such as emergency shelters she can go to in the case of an emergency as well as what services such as counseling are available locally. She should avail herself of them.

    2. After going over safety planning, you need to speak to someone about getting a protective order or it’s equivalent in your jurisdiction. Yes, it is just a piece of paper, but often times it will put the person on notice, and that may be enough to deter him from taking any action against your friend. It will also prohibit him from owning firearms and require him to surrender his pistol that you know about to police. Protective orders also make it easier for the police to take action in the event he harasses or threatens her and they help build a paper trail for subsequent legal action. Protective orders are not a perfect solution, they need to be coupled with rigorous safety planning to be effective, but they do help. You can contact your county attorney, they handle protective orders, to help you bring a protective order action. Private attorneys who specialize in domestic violence can also apply for a protective order.

    3. Find an attorney in your area who specializes in domestic violence family law. They should be familiar with safety planning, protective orders etc. and reinforce those practices.

    Yes, I do believe in self defense. Strongly. But in my experience, when you are in the middle of an experience such as she is going through, that may not be the best time to start learning about firearms and use of deadly force. It’s a case by case issue on how effective it will be. If they do not understand the gravity of the situation, they are too distracted to learn the fundamentals, or if they have any misgivings about using deadly force against a former loved one, it can be a bad situation. That’s why I recommend taking steps one through three above first, then revisiting the firearms issue. Your primary goal is to ensure her safety, and the above, while not perfect by any means, are the first steps to doing so. After they understand the gravity of the situation, it may be easier to discuss the issue of deadly force and firearms.

    Best of luck to your friend.

    • Rob says

      Oh, and one other thought on a similar situation I had. After doing everything in my first post, I took the anti-gun family in question trap shooting with a 20 gauge. I introduced it to them strictly as a sport. They had fun at the range. After a couple of range sessions, I casually slid in the fact that they could use the same firearms for self defense with the proper ammunition. Since they were comfortable with the shotgun in a sporting capacity, they were not as adverse to it. As a piece of sporting equipment, it’s not as scary. They then later took the NRA beginner courses and purchased a Mossberg 500.

  2. Molon Labe says

    On top of of all of that, and worth every bit of what you paid for it, here is some unwarranted advice from an internet stranger with experience in a similar situation: Do the unthinkable and talk to the police about how this guy is slightly unhinged and ask them to go have a talk with him about the gun. The questions on the 4473 don’t end there. You need to continue to answer them in correct fashion to maintain that firearm. Being a crazy jerk is grounds to have your firearm taken away until you can prove that you aren’t mental any more.

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