More than four dozen domestic violence victims have been killed since 2000 by abusers who could not legally own a gun in Wisconsin, including four last year, according to a new report.
The victims included Zina Haughton, who obtained a restraining order against her husband, Radcliffe Haughton, just three days before he fatally shot her at the Azana Salon and Spa in suburban Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel reported. Another victim, 22-year-old Zoey Krueger, was killed by her boyfriend Nov. 5 at a motel in Jefferson after he had been charged with trying to strangle her less than a year earlier.
In all, 52 people died in 38 domestic violence episodes last year, according to a new report from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. Four were shooter suicides.
There have been 499 domestic violence homicides in the state since 2000, and at least 53 of the victims were killed with illegal guns, the advocacy group said. Another 189 people were killed with legal guns.
"These tragedies must call us to do better. Domestic violence homicides are preventable homicides, but too often abusers are not held accountable and are allowed to illegally possess guns to threaten, injure and sometimes kill their victims," said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse.
Radcliffe Haughton bought the gun used in the Azana spa shooting within 48 hours of his wife obtaining a restraining order. That was possible in part because it's not illegal in Wisconsin to sell someone under a restraining order.
Also, Wisconsin judges often don't know whether domestic abusers own guns, and if an abuser lies about having firearms or ignores a court order to turn them over, there's usually no follow-up or penalty.
A bipartisan bill pending in the Legislature would address some of those issues, creating a process for courts to verify whether people subject to restraining orders had surrendered their weapons. But it would still be legal to sell guns to people under restraining orders.