Courtney Irby was arrested on June 15th after entering her ex-husbands apartment, taking his handgun and assault rifle, and turning it in to police as she feared for her life.
Lakeland Police in Florida arrested Courtney, who admitted to entering the apartment without permission, and charged her with burglary and grand theft.
Just one day prior, Courtney’s ex’s husband was arrested on a charge of domestic battery after following her car, ramming into her, and eventually forcing her off the road. This took place after a divorce court meeting June 14th.
Under federal law, anyone under a domestic violence restraining order is prohibited from owning weapons. However, local law enforcement is the entity that has to enforce this rule. It shouldn’t be a surprise that most police offices do not have the resources to enforce this rule.
Women who are victims of domestic violence are 8 times more likely to be killed by a partner if there are guns in the home. Intimate partner violence is also the leading cause of female homicide and injury related deaths of pregnant women.
Under federal law, a victim of domestic violence has the right to be reasonably protected from the accused offender. Courtney’s family reports that she was scared not only for herself but her daughter as well. Since her ex-husband had not turned in his guns to comply with federal law, she did it for him.
Despite this, Polk County Sheriff’s office spokesman Brian Brunchey said law enforcement can’t confiscate someone’s weapons without a court order or the person turns them in. Yet Buzzfeed reports that a judge mandate required her ex-husband to turn in his guns.
Courtney spent 6 days in jail for her charges while her husband only spent one day.
This gap in our legal system puts all victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender, at risk. It favors the perpetrators and victimizes those trying to seek help from the entity designed to keep them safe.
Everyone deserves protection under the law and I understand that technically Courtney committed a crime. Her punishment, if one had to be enforced, should be minimal. Her husband already proved that he had intent to harm her. Forcing her car off the road is the only transgression we know about. Imagine what she endured behind closed doors.
If more legal requirements have to be met in order to keep victims safe, then they need to be worked into the normal path a domestic violence victim would follow in a court system. If a court order is needed to confiscate weapons despite offenders already being prohibited from firearms, that order should be created at the same time the restraining order is filed. Or when they’re convicted of other domestic violence crimes.
Since news spread of her arrest, domestic violence groups and the Orlando Representative Anna Eskamani have urged State Attorney Brian Haas to drop the charges. Eskamani wrote a letter to Haas citing research that showed the risk a victim is at with the presence of a gun in the home.
Ms. Irby was seeking help from the Lakeland Police Department and taking action to protect herself and her children. Prosecuting Ms. Irby sets a scary precedent that if someone seeks help to escape abuse, they will be punished for it.”
Despite the uproar, prosecutors have not dropped charges against Courtney Irby at this time. She is set to appear in court July 16th. A GoFundMe page has been created for Courtney to hep pay for legal and living expenses.