Few stories make our blood boil as much as the following story out of Florida. According to a story originally published in the Huffington Post, an alleged victim of domestic violence was arrested and charged with armed burglary after she removed her estranged husband’s guns from his residence and took them to a police department for safe keeping.
The story sounds absurd, but trust us, it only gets worse when you get into the details. On June 14, Courtney Irby arrived to court with her husband for a divorce hearing. According to a police report, after court ended Courtney’s husband Joseph followed his wife as she left the courthouse and began ramming the back of her car as they were driving, ultimately driving her off the road. She called police in hysterics and let them know that she had taken out a number of protective orders against her husband in the past.
Joseph Irby was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and Courtney applied for a temporary injunction for protection. The following morning, she testified at her husband’s hearing over the phone, and a judge granted Joseph pretrial release on the grounds that he not own, possess or carry any firearms. Courtney heard this, went to her husband’s house, took his assault rifle and handgun and took them to the Lakeland Police Department for safe keeping. She told the officer on duty that she wanted to ensure the guns were taken out of his hands because she didn’t believe he would turn them in.
The officer asked Irby is she took the guns without her husband’s knowledge, and when she said yes, the officer told her that she was admitting to a crime and she was placed under arrest and eventually charged with armed burglary of a dwelling and grand theft of a firearm.
Spends Six Days In Jail
Courtney Irby spent five nights and six days in jail before she was granted bond, while her husband was released the day after running her off the road with his vehicle.
Not surprisingly, Courtney hired a lawyer who vehemently disagrees with the police department’s version of what transpired.
“Theft is to deprive someone of the right or benefit of property,” said Courtney’s defense lawyer Lawrence Shearer in an interview with the Huffington Post. “She didn’t do either one of those. She was taking them to the police department for safekeeping.”
There are so many issues with this story, but it speaks to the larger point of why many domestic abusers don’t come forward in the first place. They’re afraid they won’t be taken seriously, they’re afraid others won’t listen, and they’re afraid coming forward will escalate the situation. The final point about escalation is why Courtney decided to be proactive and remove the firearms from her husband’s home after he was ordered not to have them. Previous research has shown that domestic violence victims are far more likely to be killed when their abuse has access to firearms, and in a state like Florida, there is no system to ensure that someone who has been ordered to relinquish their guns actually does so. When you consider that a woman is shot to death every 16 hours by their intimate partner, it’s clear that there’s a major problem with removing weapons from abusers.
We’re currently in the “Me Too” era where so many women across the US are finding their voice and speaking out against abuse, yet they’re still facing antiquated laws and uphill battles against common sense just in order to keep themselves safe. This case needs to be dismissed, and these laws need to be addressed.