This Man Should Not Have a Gun, and He Is Not the Only One

Georgia has gone all-in on gun rights recently, most notably with their “Guns Everywhere” law that allows guns in churches, bars, libraries, and even airports and schools.  But, even for such a pro-gun state, this is inexplicable.  A man convicted of sexual assault who attempted to rape a woman with his gun has had his right to carry a firearm restored.

Think Progress reports:

A Georgia appeals courts decision upholding the sexual assault conviction of a former cop named Dennis Krauss is difficult to read. According to the record in Krauss’ trial, the former officer was dispatched to the home of a woman who called 911 alleging that her husband had hit her. Rather than arresting the husband, however, Krauss asked the victim to ride with him in his police car. Once she was in his car, “Krauss told the victim that he could take her to jail if he wanted to” or, if she did not want to be arrested, she could have sex with him instead. Krauss’ words, according to the court opinion, were “[w]e can go to the motel or you can go to jail.”

At the motel, Krauss drew his service weapon and told the woman that he wanted to anally penetrate her with the gun. When she refused, and began to cry, “Krauss then pushed her back, pulled off her pants, and had sex with her.” And then he drove her home to the same husband that led her to call the police in the first place.

Krauss was convicted of sexual assault against a person in custody, and this one instance of sexual assault is far from the only allegation against him. According to theAtlanta Journal-Constitution, “[h]is record was filled with allegations of misconduct: that he beat a prisoner so severely the man’s brain bled; that he threatened to fabricate charges against a suspect so he could sleep with the man’s wife; that he pressured at least 10 women for sex to avoid arrest.” The former cop, for his part, is unrepentant. When asked about his sexual assault conviction, he claims that “[t]here wasn’t any crime,” and that “I was dealt a bad hand.”

And yet, in July of 2013, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles restored Krauss’ right to carry a firearm. According to a Journal-Constitution tally, he is one of 358 violent felons who regained these rights over a six year period. That includes 32 violent felons who killed someone, and 44 who committed sex crimes. One man regained his right to own a gun in 2012 after serving a 10 year sentence for child molestation and aggravated child molestation. Some offenders regained their gun rights after being convicted of crimes such as armed robbery, burglary or aggravated assault.

Surely, even the state of Georgia can see the dangers of letting a man like this carry a weapon. This is a man convicted of a violent crime and who allegedly committed numerous others.  He used his gun to coerce a woman into non-consensual sex, and then attempted to violate her with that very weapon.  But, apparently, the right for a manany manto carry a gun outweighs the right of women not to be sexually assaulted.  Rapist, robbers, murderers, and even child molesters are allowed to carry weapons, and that is completely ludicrous.  Each of those 358 violent felons has victimized people, and can now carry a weapon that will allow them to continue their abhorrent behavior.

Courts have ruled repeatedly that violent criminals can have their right to own a gun revoked.  Yet, somehow, women and children still get little protection.  There has been resistance to keeping guns from domestic abusers or people with violence-related restraining orders.  And, in Georgia at least, even serial rapists are free to carry weapons.  Or, is sexual assault not a violent crime?  Are women not people who should be protected?  How about children?

This issue goes far beyond the Second Amendment.  For all the gray area over what the founders may have intended, no one could argue that they thought violent criminals should have weapons.  This issue is just further proof that women, children, and other victims of violent crime don’t matter to GOP lawmakers, at least not as much as guns do.


Women are people.  Corporations are not.  But, what should be apparent and obvious is not necessarily legally true.  The Supreme Court has ruled against the latter statement, and now it seems they disagree on the former, as well.  They are wrong on both counts (in my humble opinion, anyway), meaning there is no logical justification for their decision in the Hobby Lobby case, where they have found that the rights of corporations matter more than those of the women who work for them.

Since the last thing we need right now is another man explaining women’s rights, I will leave that to Katie McDonough at Salon, who writes:

So what does the decision actually mean? In the immediate term, it means that women who work at Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are paying for health coverage (insurance is part of their compensation package, it’s not some gift bestowed upon them by their bosses) that their employers have decided that they can’t have. That’s really what this comes down to in the most blunt terms imaginable. The religious owners of these companies have medically inaccurate ideas about contraception and abortion, and they now get to impose those ideas on the people who work for them. In the majority opinion, five male justices argued that the Department of Health and Human Services can fill in the gaps in coverage created by this ruling by including for-profit companies in the accommodation system created for religious nonprofits and other explicitly faith-based organizations. Women’s health, it seems, has become someone else’s problem.

McDonough raises some important points, the first being that health insurance is not a gift from the employer to the employee.  The employee pays for her health care, and should be the only one who determines what is and what is not covered.  Just like the employer has no right to tell her what she can spend her money on after she cashes her paycheck, the employer has no right to determine what her payment for health care is used for.

The second important point is that Hobby Lobby’s position (and that of other companies with similar pending cases) is based on wrong information.  Their objections are supposedly due to a belief that contraception is the same as abortion, which is simply not the case.  While contraception can prevent pregnancy, it does not terminate pregnancy.  Further, many women who use hormonal contraception do so for other medical reasons, including endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and various menstrual disorders.  This means that for these women, birth control is medicine.  It is not something that they take to have consequence-free sex (though there is certainly nothing wrong with that), it is something they take to alleviate pain and suffering.  To deprive them of this based on faulty information is inhumane and inexcusable.

I would disagree (if only slightly) with one point, however.  McDonough says “women’s health, it seems, has become someone else’s problem.”  I would counter that this actually means that women’s health has become EVERYONE else’s problem.  In addition to the half of the population that stands to suffer directly as a result of the ruling, the rest of us will feel the effects, as well.  Unplanned pregnancies will likely rise (which means abortions would rise with them), and potentially minor medical conditions could grow into more severe conditions which require further medical care, rather than simple hormonal treatment.  This means health care costs would rise for everyone.  And, for anyone who claims that women should simply pay out-of-pocket for their contraception, I would counter that it is more expensive than most people think.  But, to even entertain that notion means accepting the false notion that men and women deserve to be treated differently.  If the health care I purchase covers every aspect of my health, why should it be any different for a woman?  Do the religious beliefs of the owners of a corporation really matter more than the well-being of a living, breathing person?

Though women (and a few men) have collectively rallied in opposition to the SCOTUS ruling, this is actually an issue that concerns individuals.  If a person has religious beliefs that forbid certain types of medical care, they should be allowed to forego that type of treatment.  That is religious freedom, as guaranteed by the Constitution.  However, they should not be able to force anyone else to do the same. That is not religious freedom, but religious oppression.  One could argue that the decision does not outlaw contraception, merely keeps it from being covered by employer-subsidized health care (which is itself a deeply flawed system).  But, the truth is, the extra cost of paying for contraception in addition to the cost of the health care plan they are already paying for may be too much for some women to afford, and is not a cost they should be forced to pay anyway.

Simply, this ruling gives far too much power to an employer over its employees.  And, it continues a trend where women are not treated as equal to their male peers.  And, many women justifiably feel that they had little say in the decision.  McDonough continues:

To sum it up, five male justices ruled that thousands of female employees should rightfully be subjected to the whims of their employers. That women can be denied a benefit that they already pay for and is guaranteed by federal law. That contraception is not essential healthcare. That corporations can pray. That the corporate veil can be manipulated to suit the needs of the corporation. That bosses can cynically choose à la carte what laws they want to comply with and which laws they do not. Each specific finding opens a door to a new form of discrimination and unprecedented corporate power. If you think this ruling won’t affect you, you haven’t been paying attention. If you think these corporations are going to stop at birth control, you’re kidding yourself.

Not all men agree with this decision.  In fact, one very notable man has vocally condemned it:

But, even he is powerless in the face of the five men on the Supreme Court who have decided that not only are corporations people, they are people whose rights and freedoms matter more than the women they employ.  This is shameful.