A staffer with the gun control group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seized on a murder suicide in Durham, North Carolina to blame the state’s gun laws, though it turns out the suspect in the case was already prohibited by law from owning or possessing firearms.
I noticed this tweet by CSGV’s Dakota Jablon Tuesday evening, and was immediately struck by its “we don’t know all the facts, but let me go ahead and blame gun laws” tone, which is straight out of the anti-gun playbook Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging (page 41, “Don’t Assume The Facts- And Don’t Wait For Them”, to be specific).
We don’t know all of the facts around this tragic murder (i.e. whether the man was allowed to have guns), but we do know that ONLY under certain circumstances does North Carolina law require removal of guns from persons subject to DV protective ordershttps://t.co/KopAn6izcb https://t.co/CAWDRfL6Zo
— Dakota Jablon (@dakotapaige_) November 26, 2019
As it happens, we do know enough about the case to determine that the suspect in this case was, in fact, prohibited from possessing firearms. According to the Charlotte News-Observer, the order of protection that Victoria St. Hillaire had taken out against her ex-boyfriend Lequintin Ford required that Ford surrender any firearms that he owned to the local sheriff.
The temporary protective order required Ford to surrender his firearms, ammunition and concealed carry permit to the county sheriff and prohibited him from seeking a gun purchase permit. Alamance County Sheriff’s Office officials were not immediately available to answer questions about any firearms that Ford turned over.
Unfortunately, even after the order of protection was granted, Ford continued to stalk St. Hillaire with almost no consequences. Instead of being kept behind bars, Ford engaged in a cycle of “arrest and release” that saw him briefly behind bars on several occasions in the weeks before St. Hillaire was murdered.
Court documents and arrest records show Ford continued to harass and stalk St. Hillaire and her family, and on Oct. 19, was accused of stalking them at the family’s home in Burlington. The arrest warrant said Ford showed up at the home on Oct. 9 and repeatedly banged on the windows. He was charged Oct. 19 with breaking one of those windows and with three misdemeanor violations of the domestic violence protective order and three felony counts of stalking.
On Oct. 21, Ford was charged again with misdemeanor stalking after he followed St. Hillaire, rented a car and drove by her home at odd times of the night, and banged on the home’s windows, a record shows. He fled before police arrived, it said.
More charges were levied against Ford on Oct. 23 after he attempted to talk with St. Hillaire when her car broke down on the side of the road, records show. The next day, he was charged again, this time with making harassing phone calls after he allegedly called St. Hillaire more than 40 times from a private number.
At an Oct. 28 hearing, Ford and St. Hillaire agreed to continuing the domestic violence protective order restrictions. Ford’s hearing on the pending charges was scheduled for Dec. 11 and Jan. 7.
Three arrests in a matter of ten days, and every time Ford was able to quickly leave jail and continue his campaign of harrassment and stalking. At no point did a judge say “Hey, this guy doesn’t seem to be learning any lessons or changing his behavior, so maybe he needs to sit in a cell for a little while and think about the path that he’s going down.”
No, as far as the law was concerned, everything was working the way it should be. Ford was told he could no longer possess firearms, he was wearing a GPS monitor, and he was scheduled for future court hearings. It’s just that none of those things mattered to Ford, who was intent on taking an innocent life before ending his own.
Dakota Jablon tried to exploit this tragedy to push for more gun control, when what the case really reveals is that the criminal justice system offers little to no justice for those who are being stalked or harrassed. If dangerous individuals aren’t kept away from their intended victims, no gun control proposal out there will be able to stop an attack from taking place. That’s what needs to be fixed, because that’s what’s actually broken.