If you haven’t had a chance to read the latest Townhall column from Crime Prevention Research Center executive director Nikki Goeser, do yourself a favor and check it out here. As part of the 20th annual National Stalking Awareness Month, Nikki shared her own personal story about the stalker who robbed her of her beloved husband and his attempts to continue stalking her, even while behind bars.
As Nikki details, the criminal justice system hasn’t exactly taken the threat posed by this guy seriously, even after he was convicted of second-degree murder. Though he continued to write a copious amount of letters to Goeser from his prison cell, it wasn’t until Goeser went public with her story of harassment that he was charged in federal court, and received a paltry one-year addition to his sentence for his actions. Amazingly, he was still able to earn “good time” credit despite committing new crimes while in prison and is scheduled for early release; a decision that Goeser says is a “cruel reality” of the criminal justice system and lawmakers who allow for the re-victimization of people like herself.
Goeser is on a mission to help other victims of stalking protect themselves, and part of that is at least talking about gun ownership; something she says many victims’ advocates are reluctant to do.
“Everything they tell victims, it may be truly needed, but a lot of that advice is part of a run and hide mentality; change your name, move, change your job, don’t follow the same route to and from every day, get a dog, get an alarm, get extra locks,” Goeser said. “That’s fine, but they hardly ever speak about a victim’s basic human right of self-defense, and they don’t give them ideas on how best to protect themselves.”
They certainly don’t mention gun ownership and firearms training. That type of advice is something I feel is very important because there are certain situations that are very, very dangerous. That’s the situation I found myself in, and these evil people are going to be released. If the justice system does this people have to be able to protect themselves. I tell people to consider firearms training, go and get your handgun carry permit. If you’ve got constitutional carry that’s great but still go get the training. Learn about situational awareness, and most importantly, you need to know the law on justifiable use of force because you don’t want to get yourself in trouble.
Nikki adds that getting rid of “gun-free zones” is another critical step in protecting victims, given that an abuser who’s willing to take a life isn’t going to be dissuaded by a sign telling them not to bring their gun past a particular point. Instead, it’s the target of those abusers and stalkers who are put at risk by demanding they must be disarmed.
While many victims advocates may be reluctant to talk about gun ownership and armed self-defense, that doesn’t mean those conversations aren’t happening. As I covered just a couple of days ago, even the Los Angeles Times (or at least two of the paper’s columnists) are starting to talk about the issue in a way I’ve rarely seen before; acknowledging that women have good reason to protect themselves, and gun free zones (as well as the criminal justice system in general) don’t do the trick.
Taking that right to carry away, whether it is offering real or only perceived safety, is another psychological harm piled on top of unforgivable policy failures.
“It makes me sad,” Maggie Martin told us. “They have gone to gun classes. They have done the work. They have done all the things to become proficient and now they are not given the option.”
Martin knows firsthand how the system fails women. She’s a gun instructor in Florida who specializes in women’s self-defense, and she is a survivor of intimate partner violence. Like so many women, she never thought it could happen to her — until she met her “knight in shining armor” on a dating app. Eight months into a relationship, it was clear he was a controlling abuser, but getting away from him was scary, she said.
She called police, but they told her — as too often happens — there was nothing they could do, and that their involvement might make the situation worse. When she finally did leave, he harassed her by driving by her house and calling her over and over again until.
In 2019, she began carrying a weapon regularly after her mother saw a segment on television about a woman killed by her abuser.
“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t do that to my mom,’ ” Martin said. “And that was the moment I decided I was not going to die.”
Advocates like Maggie Martin and Nikki Goeser are having a real impact, and for the better. I’m glad that Nikki could join me on today’s show, and I’m so grateful for all of the work she’s done over the years to help stalking victims be safe and secure in the face of danger. Her courage and dedication is inspiring, and the Second Amendment community is made immeasurably stronger by her presence.