What’s a “Vindictive Petitioner”?

This time last week, a gun lobbyist in Washington called a group of people “vindictive petitioners.” Here’s the full quote:

This is a starling, unamerican idea. People who have not been investigated, arrested or charged with any crime, will be stigmatized, forced into the justice system, forced into the justice system to defend themselves, and all without acceptable due process. 2461 will fail to stop violent criminals because these people possess, hide, and steel, firearms without regard for court orders. I also foresee that the bill will endanger police by sending them into homes to seize legally owned firearms and this will inevitably lead to violence. It is a poorly crafted bill that disregards due process. It is designed to be abused by vindictive petitioners and it unlikely to achieve any of the stated goals.

And here is a link to a video of gun lobbyist Phil Shave of Washington Arms Collectors saying it.

Before we move on to what, exactly, Shave meant by “vindictive petitioners,” it is worth providing some context for his comments. Shave was testifying before a state house committee on a bill designed to allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms, at the request of families and law enforcement, from people who pose a significant risk of committing a violent act against themselves or others when there is evidence of that risk. A similar law came into effect earlier this month in California. Seems pretty reasonable, right? Well, the gun lobby hates it. They loathe it. Last year, an NRA lobbyist described their “general philosophical opposition” to the measure (he was there again this year; his comments on the bill consisted of an awful and offensive rant about how large numbers of people have been killed with things other than guns, so we should do nothing to help prevent gun violence).

Context covered, we are now ready to talk about “vindictive petitioners.” Shave was talking about women, and particularly female domestic violence survivors. Shave was saying, more or less, that people who have been abused are likely to abuse laws to target their abusers. That’s gross, it’s victim shaming awfulness, along with absolutely dismissing how domestic violence occurs and the legal tools available to people when they need protection from abusers.

Shave doesn’t care though. He’d rather make sure that people who want to kill themselves, the people they abuse, or other innocent people have easy, unfettered access to guns and, conceivably, that people who are abused, harassed, or in danger feel that it is necessary to buy guns to protect themselves from the very people Shave thinks should continue to hold on to their guns, despite the risk they pose. And that, folks, is yet another reason why we all should be disgusted by the gun lobby.

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