Advocates Warn of New Dangers as Sheriff Urges Domestic Violence Victims to Arm Themselves

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from The Trace,

A brutal murder in a small Louisiana town reignites debate about women, guns, and self-defense. Here’s the story the data tells.

On the night of August 9, police responded to a domestic dispute at a home in the small Louisiana town of Geismar. In the backyard, they found the bludgeoned body of Monica Johnson. The 45-year-old held an active restraining order against her estranged husband, who police arrested the next morning and charged with murdering his wife with a baseball bat.

As the community processed the horrific crime, local law enforcement and pro-gun establishments offered a simple response: arm domestic violence victims to prevent more deaths. Appearing on a CBS affiliate two days after the murder, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley urged women to get concealed-weapons permits.

“When you’re in a situation like this, shoot him in your backyard before he gets in your house,” Wiley said. “Drop him. Take the extremes necessary to live a life where you don’t have to worry about your kids and your life.”

Twenty-two miles north in Baton Rouge, Wade Duty, the owner of Precision Firearms in Baton Rouge, called the sheriff’s comments “motivational” and announced that he was offering free concealed-carry training to women with restraining orders against abusers. “If you find yourself in this situation, you need to have some options,” said Duty, an attorney and NRA-trained instructor. Wiley and Duty did not respond to a request for comment.

But now some local domestic violence prevention advocates are pushing back, arguing that adding a firearm can add new risks to an already volatile situation.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to eliminate domestic violence homicide, and we’re never going to be able to eliminate the need for women to defend themselves,” Beth Meeks, executive director of Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, tells The Trace. “But there’s an overwhelming pile of evidence that says that a woman who wields a gun against her abuser is much more likely to have her own weapon used against her.”

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