Orlando Rep. Anna Eskamani calls on state attorney to drop case of woman arrested for turning in husband's guns to police


  • Photo via Polk County Sheriff's Office
State Rep. Anna Eskamani is calling on State Attorney Brian Haas to drop the case against the Florida woman who is facing felony burglary charges after she turned in her allegedly abusive husband's firearms to police.

Polk County resident Courtney Irby was arrested June 15 and charged with armed burglary of a dwelling and grand theft of a firearm after she entered the apartment of her husband, Joseph Irby, collected his guns and turned them in to the Lakeland Police Department, according to the arrest affidavit.

As Orlando Weekly reported last week, a judge had previously ordered the guns to be turned in. Regardless, Irby was told she was breaking the law by doing so, even though she claimed her husband would refuse to comply, and even though Irby had already applied for a temporary injunction against her husband and the two were in the process of a divorce, records show.

"She made this decision after her husband ... was taken to jail after running her off the road and hitting her vehicle, while she was driving, with his car," Eskamani, D-Orlando, writes to Haas, who represents Florida's 10th Judicial Circuit. "When officers contacted the husband, who was still in the Polk County Jail, he insisted they press charges."

Eskamani adds in the letter: "Prosecuting Ms. Irby sets a scary precedent that if someone seeks help to escape abuse, they will be punished for it."

Orlando Weekly
has reached out to Haas' office for comment.

As Eskamani notes in the letter, Florida is among the 35 states that does not ban individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and those subject to restraining orders from purchasing firearms.

Also noted in the first-term representative's letter is the clear link between gun violence and domestic abuse. Roughly 4.5 million U.S. women have been threatened with a firearm by an intimate partner, and 92 percent of all women killed with guns in high-income countries in 2015 occurred in the U.S., according to the gun research nonprofit Everytown.

A 2016 study from The Trace also found a U.S. woman is shot and killed by a current or former intimate partner every 16 hours.

During the legislative session earlier this year, Eskamani and state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, filed companion bills that sought to keep firearms away from people who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses.

The legislation would also have also closed loopholes in the state's 2018 risk protection order law, which states that only a law enforcement officer or agency is allowed to file a petition for a risk protection order and remove firearms from a respondent who "poses a significant danger."

Neither of the bills received a hearing.

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