A men's issues columnist says many civil rights violations are occurring as a result of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Under that legislation and a later modification passed in 1996, police officers or military personnel that have a restraining order against them are not allowed to possess a firearm.
VAWA's restraining order provision creates a problem for individuals working in a job or military occupation that requires them to use a weapon in the course of performing their duties. And according to columnist Glenn Sacks, the evidence standard for restraining orders is so low that they are often issued without any allegation of violence.
“Many times a police officer's wife or ex-girlfriend will get a restraining order against him,” Sacks says, noting that “a lot of times [restraining orders are] used as custody tactics in divorces.” So when this happens, he explains, “The officer loses his right to carry a weapon, and then he loses his job and loses his career.”
The men's issues advocate feels Congress should repeal the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban of 1996 and allow soldiers and police officers who are under a restraining order to continue using their military-issued or department-issued firearms for the purpose of their jobs. This way, he says, “if you have a restraining order against you okay, so you can't have your hunting rifle or your other guns. But at least you can have your department-issued gun so you can still work and you can still have your career.”
On the other hand, Sacks adds, “If you're convicted of domestic violence, or if there's an Internal Affairs investigation and they find that you in fact have committed domestic violence, or you have beaten your wife, or whatever then I think, in those cases, those police officers should be removed from the police force.”
As the law is currently written, Sacks contends that highly decorated police and armed forces personnel are losing their livelihoods because of the VAWA. He believes the evidence standard for the issuance of restraining orders must be raised in order to better protect men in the line of duty.
Dr. Steven Baskerville, an advocate for fathers' rights, agrees that the VAWA needs revision. “Most of the provisions funded in the Act are used rampantly in divorce courts and custody battles to get custody of children,” he notes. “But what's even more serious is that the Act allows us to bypass due process of law.”
While the VAWA may seem good on the surface, Baskerville believes the legislation is being manipulated in U.S. courts. “It politicizes crime so that crimes are not defined by due process, by criminality, or by one's acts,” he avers. “They come to be defined by what group one belongs to, or the relationship between the parties.”
Baskerville says the Violence Against Women Act, while designed to protect women from abuse, has actually been used to destroy families and undermine fathers' rights. Like Sacks, he wants to see major changes in the legislation so that men as well as women are protected.