Florida Prosecutes Abused Wife Who Turned Her Husband's Guns Over to Police

The Florida State Attorney's office has decided that Courtney Irby will face misdemeanor trespassing charges for turning her estranged husband's guns over to the police. If the story sounds familiar, it's because Irby originally hit the newswires a month ago after the police arrested her for turning the guns over to them, charging her with trespassing, two counts of grand theft of a firearm, and armed burglary.

At the time of her arrest, Irby was turning to the police for protection from her abusive husband. Having been arrested for ramming her car with his, Joseph Irby had a restraining order preventing him from contact with his wife. In the midst of a messy divorce from her husband, Courtney feared for her life.

Following her arrest, Courtney's sister pleaded in an email to local news organization LkldNow that "My sister was hysterical. She knew that [his arrest] just poked the bear, and he would be coming after her. In the (hopes) of protecting herself and her children, she did the one thing that she thought would help save her life. She went to his apartment, gathered his arsenal of firearms and Kevlar and took them to the police station. She just knew that if the police had the guns, she would be safe for just a little while longer."

Denied bond, Courtney spent six days in jail while waiting for her preliminary hearing. Her husband, however, made bail after having been arrested for attempting to use his vehicle as a weapon to harm her. Part of his release agreement was that he was not allowed to be in possession of any firearms. It was only after that pre-trial hearing that Courtney took the guns to the police. For their part, the Barstow Police contend that Courtney didn't have the legal right to enter her "ex-husband's" home nor to take his guns.

According to LkldNow, Courtney Irby's attorney:

Argues that Joseph Irby is not Courtney Irby’s “ex-husband,” as had been written in the report. He also said that while she had taken a rifle and a handgun from his home, it did not constitute theft, as Joseph Irby would be able to retrieve the weapons from LPD “assuming he was not lawfully barred from possessing weapons upon his release.” Additionally, Courtney Irby, by turning over the guns to the police, had no intention to “appropriate the property to her own use or the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property,” as described in state law, he said.

While it's good that the state attorney's office has dropped the more serious charges, it's still shamefully absurd that Courtney Irby faces further legal and criminal punishment for turning to the authorities for help and protection.

Men who abuse women are despicable -- among the lowest of the low. That should go without saying and society should bend over backward to defend women who are abused by men. And conservatives should be leading the charge.

Look, if we're going to insist that there are major physical differences between men and women when arguing against men who believe they are women competing in women's sports, then we can't try and pretend that men abusing women isn't a heinous act that deserves a severe response from the authorities. We also can't pretend that there is equal footing when it comes to abuse. Men are bigger, stronger, and far more equipped to enact violence on women than vice versa.

Courtney Irby did the right thing by turning to the authorities for protection instead of trying to handle it herself. She shouldn't be punished for it. The State of Florida has failed in its duties to protect and serve Courtney Irby.