By Amber Kunau
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
I read the stories of Carol Bowne’s death and think it could have been me. If I’d lived in New Jersey, that would have been me. The anger and frustration I feel over her death almost can’t be put into words because it strikes too close to home. Let me tell you what other domestic violence victims already know.
Victims of domestic violence become desensitized from repeated abuse. Many victims are too scared to leave their abuser. The most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is when they leave their abuser and the few days following their escape. I was one of them.
I left my abuser and so did Carol Bowne. I had an order of protection and so did Carol Bowne. One huge lifesaving difference is that I had the right to immediately buy a gun. Carol Bowne couldn’t. She didn’t have a gun because the state of New Jersey decides who can live and who can die. The politicians and bureaucrats in states like New Jersey have blood on their hands. How they sleep at night knowing that Carol Bowne’s death was preventable is beyond me.
Local and state police denied Carol’s right of self-defense by delaying her handgun purchase permit. Most police officers are licensed to carry firearms, the same right they deny to common citizens like Carol Bowne. Instead of “allowing” Carol to purchase a gun in a reasonable amount of time, New Jersey judges and politicians sit safely tucked away from crime with 24/7 protection.
Carol Bowne’s abuser stalked her for months. She did everything she could to protect herself. She had a house alarm installed. Her security system included internal and external video monitoring. She also got a piece of paper saying her abuser couldn’t come near her. We all know how well a sheet of paper stops bad people.
I could be dead too had I lived in a state like New Jersey with its completely demented gun laws. In my case, my abuser showed up at my house with a rifle in his truck and I called the police. My abuser was arrested and released again within hours. We pay lip service to empowering women while violent perpetrators have more legal rights than their victims.
Carol Bowne was rendered completely defenseless at the hands of an inept state government. She tried to get a gun legally. Her permit request was well past the 30-day maximum time frame required for a response in New Jersey. Carol’s questions went unanswered when she called 41 days later asking about her permit. She instinctively knew she needed a gun for protection. She spent 43 terrifying days and nights being defenseless. I’ve lived those days. Carol was stabbed in her own driveway and bled to death 43 days after asking the state for a permit to buy a gun to protect herself.
It can take nine months to get a gun purchase permit in New Jersey. In Arizona I can walk into any gun store, buy a gun, and leave with it. It needs to be that way in every state. Lives literally depend on it. Victims like Carol Bowne die because they are defenseless and disarmed in their moment of need.
It is long past the time to overturn these outrageous laws. We need to protect the innocent rather than the guilty, the victims rather than victimizers. If that means changing our politicians, then so be it. Until these laws change there is no doubt that more women will die at the hands of their abusers.
I’m asking victims of abuse to run from their abusers and run from the states that leave you defenseless.