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Texas Murders Show it’s Time to Stop Abusers from Getting Guns

Texas Murders Show it’s Time to Stop Abusers from Getting Guns

A community in Texas is still reeling after a 33 year-old man brutally murdered a family, including four children who were aged between just 4 and 14.

The man, Ronald Lee Haskell, is accused of shooting the four children and their parents after arriving on the doorstep in a Fed Ex uniform and breaking down the door when one member of the household tried to close it on him.

The murder itself was shocking. “I have not personally in 40 years seen a tragedy in one family that is this horrific,” Ron Hickman, the Harris County Precinct 4 constable, told the Houston Chronicle. According to reports Haskell waited in the home with five children until their parents came home, allegedly hoping to get information to find the location of his ex-wife. Only one victim survived.

“Where was his ex-wife, he demanded? Either no one knew or no one would say. So, police say, Haskell forced them to lie face down and shot them all in the head. He then drove away in the family’s Honda,” reports the Houston Chronicle. “Miraculously, the bullet intended to kill [15 year-old] Cassidy only grazed her head. She played dead until her burly ex-uncle left, and then called 911.”

Haskell had a history of violence against his ex, and had protective orders issued against him. His ex wife even fled the state with her children in order to protect them all from his abuse, according to news reports. Yet none of that stopped Haskell from having a gun.

According to Mother Jones, although protective orders prohibit a person from obtaining a gun legally, a mutual restraining order doesn’t. Haskell was originally slapped with a protective order, but as part of the bargaining process for a divorce, he had that whittled down.

“Under federal law, Haskell’s protective order should have prohibited him from owning guns,” says Laura Cutilletta, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. However, in October 2013, Haskell’s protective order was converted to a ‘mutual restraining order’ as part of their divorce and custody proceedings,” writes Hannah Levintona.

“This crucial step likely meant that Haskell was legally allowed to have guns again, under both state and federal law,” Laura Cutilletta adds. “Had the first protection order not been dropped [it's] likely he would have been prohibited​.”

Haskell had also been convicted for physically abusing his wife, but that probably wouldn’t have prohibited him from owning a gun, either.

“Nor is it likely that Haskell’s 2008 conviction barred him from owning a gun in Utah or Texas,” Cutilletta says, “because he was convicted of simple assault rather than domestic violence.”

Democrats have been working on new federal bills that would allow more restrictions on gun purchasing and ownership for those with abusive pasts. A series of legislative proposals have been introduced that would forbid firearms being sold to those with restraining orders, abusive partners or stalkers, according to Mother Jones, but they have been stuck in committees or not brought up for votes, in part because of strong opposition from the NRA.

That leaves not just former spouses and their families in danger, but anyone who comes into contact with the ex of a violent partner. “According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, 114 women died from domestic violence in 2012, the most recent year statistics are available,” reports Anita Hassan at the Houston Chronicle. “The same year, 15 friends or family members of the intended victim were killed and another eight were injured.”

Their only “crime”? Being in the area of a violent person with a gun who was intent on harming an ex.

“Here’s the reality: more than half of the women killed with guns in the U.S. are murdered by their partners,” states Every Town for Gun Safety, an advocacy group for sensible gun restriction. “Every month, 46 women are shot and killed in the U.S. by a current or former boyfriend or spouse. We researched mass shootings between January 2009 and January 2013 and found that 57 percent of mass shootings involved the murder of a partner or other close family member. But we know that common-sense gun laws will protect domestic violence victims and save lives. In states that require background checks, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.”

Tighter gun restrictions for those with violent pasts are a must to keep our society safer, and it’s something that has to happen at a federal level, not just for the sake of former partners but, as the Haskell case has shown us, for their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, too.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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149 comments

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7:27PM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

David F, 15 million Russians, millions of Brits, French, Czech, Polish, African, Indians etc, upwards of 30 million people had fought and died in the war before America stepped foot in Europe in WW2, don't be under the misguided impression that the US just landed there and won the war by all themselves, they couldn't even beat a small under armed country like Vietnam. As for your stupid 2nd amendment, there weren't any dimwitted rednecks and their colt 45s involved in it neither, but trained soldiers. I know my history, are you sure you know yours?

7:56PM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

Will R, If you know your History and are living in England, you should be grateful for the US 2nd amendment, If it wasn't for that, you might be speaking German, or if you are Jewish, worse.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/650257/posts

10:58PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

A man shot and killed a family of five and people are defending guns? Don't you think that is even slightly perverted? Haven't these apologists got any shame? Compassion? Just because of a 200 year old law? Laws should be changed periodically to fit with the times, 18th century thinking has no place in the 21st century and nostalgia should not influence law.
Arms trading accounts for a significant portion of their economy, and without it they would not be the economic and military force they are. They need wars for their economy to survive, and their militaristic mindset is necessary for their consciences. They probably see situations like the above to be a necessary evil. Though god knows' no one else does....excepting the likes of the Taliban, Somalians and the Saudis of course.

2:38PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

If you add just a few Democratic Districts in a few Democratic City's there is about 20% of all of the nations gun deaths. Those are of course non-concealed carry districts.

3:39PM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

Linda M
“Of course both occurred in the US. Quite hilarious. Yep, the good guys need guns to protect against the bad guys.”

how about the ijit who stuck his gun in his pants (like they do on the telly) and circumcised his wee willy winky. Lol. Stephanie Miller plays a Rocky Mountain Mike's catchy tune concerning that issue.

“Since 1980 @ 3000 Americans have been killed by terrorism, 1/100th as many. The response, the Patriot Act & immense phone & internet spying on US citizens.”

I remember when gigglesnot enacted that. And there were those of us who protested. And his supporters would smugly state: “I don't have anything to hide.” and now they're all collapsing onto their fainting couches at the horror of it all! Hmm, let me see... what's different today then was when gigglesnot & and His (LEXX) Shadow was in office...let me think... (Jeopardy theme plays in background) oh yeah! What is: there's a black man in the White House. The horror! The humanity!!!

3:29PM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

Wanda B
“The police can assist you but you are responsible for your own personal safety, you cannot hold the police accountable for not protecting you from harm. You are responsible for being your first line of defense.”

I would like to think if a person were on a street corner while police are present, and there's a drive-by that the police would jump to action and 'protect' innocent by-standers. Instead of yelling “EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!” and then flee the scene.

So do you also think: “first do no harm” is just a cute slogan as well.


“You are responsible for being your first line of defense.”

guess we need to provide all infants with AR-15's then. They can hide them under their blankies.

“Have a nice day ;)”

(Catwoman voice) meeeow.

Del L
“Carole L. In all truth the police truly are to enforce the laws and arrest or detain those that chose to break laws..”

seems to be a miscommunication going. I didn't mean I expect police to camp out on everyone's doorstep. By them arresting law breakers they 'are' protecting the general public.

Mary B
“Then they scream at MY posts because I happen to be Canadian (then Wanda posts all relevant gun related incidents in Canada).....”

and they don't get it either. There seems to be no evidence of compassion.

8:25AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

No responses to the 3000 vs 300,000 statistics of deaths committed by terrorism vs gun murders & the restrictive measures taken by the government in each case? A wee bit selective, yes? Of course EVERYONE hates terrorists & they don't have the NRA & the gun manufacturer's profits to back them regarding legislation. Legislation against the gun lobby, not so much. I've said before & IT MAKES SENSE, hunting rifles or personal defence weapons fine if you're so concerned, but not multi fire killing machines. One well placed bullet in self defence is as effective as 500. Yeah, yeah, I know the intruder has an Uzi. Excuse after excuse.

8:25AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

Wanda.......SOME of the victims of the "gang violence" you rage against ARE children and innocent bystanders.....NO ONE condones violence but your attitude seems to be "I'll get them before they get me"......You can't rest YOUR case because in your mind, guns ARE the answer.....

8:15AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

MARY B - SO true. A definite lack of empathy. I even have empathy for gang victims since they are trapped in societal situations often beyond their control - absent fathers, mothers who have 8 kids from different fathers, ghetto mentality, cyclical poverty & lack of opportunity that makes it so attractive to take the easy way out via criminality - that doesn't excuse their behaviours in any way, shape or form, but they were born as innocent as every other human on the planet and circumstances made them what they are. Who knows how any of us might turn out in similar circumstances? Of course gangs are evil as are some people simply by nature.
Have a nice day - this time however, the salutation is sincere, not sarcasm.

7:56AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

Mary B- And as always Mary B, you love to take pokes at me, but NOT ONE, I repeat NOT ONE WORD OF EMPATHY FROM YOU SINCE THE DAY YOU STARTED TAKING SHOTS AT ME FOR THE VICTIMS OF GANG VIOLENCE!!!!!!!!!

You are only interested in the victims of the moment mentioned in the articles. I rest my case. Have a nice day ;)

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