An Alabama police officer shot and killed his wife after getting back his gun back from law enforcement who had taken it because of previous domestic abuse allegations.
Megan Montgomery, 31, told doctors in February 2019 that her husband, officer Jason McIntosh, had shot her. She was taken to the emergency room in Birmingham, Alabama with a gunshot wound in her upper right arm.
Police took McIntosh’s gun away. Despite that domestic violence charges were pending and a protective order was active, Alabama’s top law enforcement agency deemed it safe to give the gun back to McIntosh. Just 16 days passed before he used the gun to kill his wife during an argument.
“So the restraining order can prohibit him from ‘contacting, phoning, texting, harassing, stalking,’ but oh by the way, you can have a gun? That’s ridiculous,” Ms Montgemery’s mother, Susann Montgomery-Clark, told NBC News.
“In my opinion, it was irrational, illogical and not prudent to” return the weapon to the officer, McIntosh’s own lawyer, Tommy Spina, agreed. He emphasized that the return of the gun didn’t excuse the actions of his client.
Mr Spina said that without the gun, “I don’t think what happened that night would have happened that night”.
Research funded by the Department of Justice shows that women whose domestic abusers have access to a firearm are five times more likely to be shot and killed.
After three decades of decreasing numbers of murders of women within intimate relationships, the number of killings by partners has been on the rise since 2013, an analysis of FBI data by Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox has shown.
In 2019, 211 men and women died in mass shootings. That same year, 964 women were shot and killed by their domestic partners.
Few states actually remove firearms from domestic abusers when a protective order is issued, despite that federal law and many state laws prohibit abusers from owning guns.
Alabama has a law that is aimed at keeping guns away from convicted abusers, but many end up holding on to their weapons.
Experts say this partly deference to gun rights from judges and officials, but also because of a lack of official procedures to take away a person’s firearm. Lacking risk awareness from law enforcement is another reason.
McIntosh pleaded guilty to murder on 31 March of this year. He was sentenced to 30 years in state prison.