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April 9, 2008

Lack of Protection

Marc Kidby was a 30 year-old Ohio University employee who was deeply troubled by a pending divorce. A gun owner and concealed carry permit holder, Kidby became the subject of a domestic violence protection order that was filed by his wife on February 11. At that point, Kibdy’s concealed carry permit should have been suspended by the Athen County sheriff’s office in Ohio. Kibdy was also required by law to surrender his guns to authorities.

He did not surrender them, and the sheriff’s office failed to suspend his permit. A deputy with the office stated that he knew of “no case where anyone thought [Kidby] was a threat to others.” Kidby’s wife, however, had said in her petition for the protection order that he had threatened to kill both her and their two year-old daughter.

Moreover, it was abundantly clear Kidby was a threat to himself. He had threatened to jump off tall buildings, was admitted to a mental health hospital at one point, and talked of “suicide by cop.”

Sadly, on April 1, Kidby took his own life with a .38-caliber handgun he owned. An opportunity to avert tragedy had been missed.

Kidby’s struggles with depression and loss were far from unique, and his unfortunate death is a reminder that guns purchased for self-defense can sometimes become a threat to those they are meant to protect. As researcher Dr. Garen Wintemute recently noted, living in a home where there are guns increases the risk of homicide by 40 to 170% and the risk of suicide by 90 to 460%.

This case also highlights the tremendous importance of clarifying and enforcing court-ordered removal laws "to actively engage the criminal justice system in the process of removing firearms from individuals who are violent toward their intimate partners.” Regrettably, one recent study that examined state laws in this area reported “an urgent need for progress.” We can and should do better.

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