A woman in Florida that is allegedly a subject of domestic disturbance by her husband has been arrested and charged with burglary of firearms after she removed the firearms from her estranged husband’s residence and brought them to the police for safekeeping.
The case is a prime example of the practical challenges of disarming these people, especially in a state like Florida, when almost one-third of the population owns firearms.
Courtney Irby was in court with her husband for a divorce hearing on June 14, and, according to the arrest affidavit, Joseph Irby, her husband, followed her as she left the courthouse and rammed his car into the back of her vehicle numerous times. He even drove her off the road.
She immediately called the police and told them she feared for her life, and she also told them that there have been protective orders against her husband in the past.
Joseph Irby was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, and he applied for a temporary injunction for protection.
She testified at his hearing the next morning over the phone, and Joseph was granted pretrial release with the condition that he not own, possess, or carry firearms.
Courtney Irby heard this and went to his residence, located his four firearms, and took them to Lakeland Police Department.
She told the police officer on duty that her husband had been arrested, and she wanted to turn in the firearms because she didn’t believe he would do it.
The police officer asked her if she took them without her husband’s permission, and when she replied yes, he told her that she was confessing to a crime. She was arrested and was charged with burglary.
Joseph Irby was released the day after his arrest, but Courtney spent five nights behind bars before being granted bond.
Lawrence Shearer, her lawyer, told HuffPost that Courtney was upset and distressed, and he said that her actions did not amount to theft under Florida law because she was not taking the items for herself, but she transferred them to the police department, where her husband could collect them later.
In several states, including Florida, there is no mechanism to ensure that a perpetrator gives his firearms up when he/she is ordered not to own firearms. This is a loophole called the “relinquishment gap”, even though research says that it can be very costly. A woman loses her life by an intimate partner every 16 hours, and there are an estimated 200 cases like this in Florida each year.