Guns, No Glory

No significant updates have been reported on last Friday’s shooting in my town. As far as I know, Cynthia Bloomquist is still in the hospital. It now appears that Kenneth Bloomquist broke into the house carrying both a rifle and a pistol, and that the pistol jammed when he fired it at his estranged wife. Were these the only two weapons involved in the incident? I don’t know.

A story posted Saturday to Cape Cod Online.com, the website of the Cape Cod Times, reported on an interview with Ms. Bloomquist’s parents. Said Elsbeth Helgerson, her mother, after a phone conversation with her daughter: “Cynthia doesn’t remember all of it, because when you’re fighting for your life, you’re not thinking about how many shots went off.”

No surprise there.

According to the Cape Cod Times story, Elsbeth and Carl Helgerson “said they worried about their son-in-law’s volatility after he threatened their daughter multiple times. On one occasion a few years ago, Elsbeth Helgerson said, Kenneth Bloomquist threatened his wife with a rifle at their former home in Harvard.”

No surprise there either, at least not to me, and not, I suspect, to most of the women I know.

I’ve been following the comments on the various news stories about the shooting, mainly on the Martha’s Vineyard Times website but also on the Vineyard Gazette and Martha’s Vineyard Patchsites, on Facebook, and (of course) on my earlier blog. A significant number focus on the role of firearms in the incident. These range from the Johnny One-Notes (such as “I wonder if all the gun-control whackos still think the Second Amendment is a bad idea?” and “Why after every shooting do the left wing liberals think guns should be outlawed? Thank GOD she had a gun or she would be DEAD!”) to speculation about how the story might have developed had no guns been involved to admiration of Cynthia Bloomquist’s evident ability to keep her head under extraordinary circumstances.

A significant number also address Ms. Bloomquist’s attempt to get a restraining order and the judge’s refusal to grant one. Most commenters think one should have been issued, even if it might not have prevented the shooting. One fellow, however, said this: “A judge won’t institute an order of protection based on one request and shouldn’t. That would lead to such an overused mismanagement of power it would be sickening. The judge will have nothing to answer for unless there has been a trail of recorded police reports for domestic issues.” (The comment was posted with a gender-neutral pseudonym, but if a woman wrote it, I’ll eat all my hats and the wool sweater I brought home from Norway.)

I and quite a few women I know aren’t likely to seek a restraining order till it’s clear that nothing else is working. Who cares what this anonymous guy thinks? Not me — but the possibility that Judge Kane denied Cynthia Bloomquist a restraining order for similar reasons is a strong argument for obtaining a permit and a gun and taking some serious target practice if you suspect your current or soon-to-be-ex partner might be somewhat volatile.

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About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has two blogs going on WordPress. "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories" is about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard. "Write Through It" is about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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10 Responses to Guns, No Glory

  1. dabodog says:

    Guns are always a hot topic. Our culture has glorified them in movies, vilifies them in the liberal media. I have a CCW (carry concealed weapon) permit in several states. I regularly carried one as a private investigator. I viewed it as the ultimate “last resort”, but I was my only back-up in a time before cell phones. I never had to unholster my gun at any time but I always remembered the words of my firearms instructor, “Better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.”

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  2. Joyce Wagner says:

    Hi, Susanna! A lot of people are angry at the judge for not issuing a restraining order, but it would appear that the only reason Ms. Bloomquist gave for it was that her husband might be a menace because he was angry and he felt entitled. Now that it comes to light that there were other incidents, why weren’t these on the request? If it were that easy, HE could have gotten one against her and SHE would have been disarmed.
    As far as guns are concerned, I have a lot of friends up here in NH that are gun nuts. They usually try to engage me in a discussion because they know I don’t like them. One of them asked, “If you don’t have a gun, how would you protect yourself against burglars?” Told him I would probably start locking my doors. Also told him that I had a burglary when I was living in Chicago. It happened while I was at work and if I had a gun at home, I would have put one more gun in the hands of criminals.
    Another, whom I know is very careful (he teaches gun safety), asked me if it worried me that he had guns. I told him no, but for every one of him that I know is reasonable about them, I know two or three that it scares the crap out of me that they have them.

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    • Joyce, I’m not sure I understand — do you know what Cynthia Bloomquist told the WTPD or the judge? I don’t, and I don’t believe it’s been in the papers. IMO restraining orders should be granted on a woman’s say-so unless there’s compelling evidence that the request is frivolous or otherwise unfounded. Whether it would have made a difference in this case, however, we’ll never know.

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      • Joyce Wagner says:

        Susanna – It was in the MV Times article. They said that they refused it because all the request said was that he was angry because he felt entitled – or something like that.
        It’s almost moot anyway. If someone’s that crazy and controlling, a restraining order means nothing. One of my good friends was held at shotgun point in front of her daughters by a husband who had a restraining order and illegal firearms.

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    • I read that part too, about his acting out violently and having a “sense of entitlement,” but it’s not currently in either the MVT or the Gazette story. It is in a comment by “SatansAdvocate,” one of the commenters on the MVT story. (He’s the one who seems to think that restraining orders shouldn’t be issued unless there have been multiple requests and/or a history of police involvement.)

      IOW, we don’t know what Cynthia Bloomquist said to the police or to the judge, or what the police said to the judge. We don’t know if his history was mentioned. To me, and I hope to anyone with a clue about domestic violence, the combination of violent potential and “sense of entitlement” in a distraught soon-to-be-ex male spouse would send up a big bright red flag. It suggests a guy who won’t take no for an answer because he doesn’t think the other person has a right to chart her own course.

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  3. Mike Deangelo says:

    I wonder if the West Tisbury police did their job correctly. Did the police convey the seriousness of the Mrs. Bloomquist’s fears to the Judge? I think there was probably a failing here.

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  4. Scotty says:

    Well, it could have ended with a variation of the classic gravestone, “I told the Judge I needed a restraining order.” (Can’t wait to see Victoria Trumbull’s take on this.)

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  5. Sara Crafts says:

    I accept your point, Susanna, but I also believe that a home with no guns is a safer home than one that has guns. When we had a family police officer in residence, she kindly would dsassemble her weapon before bringing it into the house. I’d be more afraid that someone coming after me would find a gun in my residence and use it against me. There’s no *right* answer for self-defense in this situation. Running and hiding works sometimes. “Standing your ground” (not Zimmerman’s version) sometimes works. My head’s not in the sand; as you and others know, I’ve been in Mrs. Blooomquist’s shoes, up until she took final action last Friday anyway. It’s a constant drag on the psyche, and also life-altering. I wish scientists could find a gene for this kind of violent, abusive, irrational behavior (“if I can’t have you, no one else can”) and excise it, or breed it out. Failing that, nothing — guns, rationale discussions, orders of protection — are guaranteed; only Mrs. Bloomquist’s solution. May her life be peaceful henceforth.

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    • It’s still not clear to me whether there was a gun in the house before Mr. B. arrived with rifle and pistol. Ms. B. had a permit, but did she have a gun? In her position, I think I would have.

      About the gene — got a hunch it has more with maturity and impulse control, which in most cases can be learned if there are enough incentives (e.g., social expectations). I’m also thinking about the men who think that getting propositioned by another man is enough reason to kill the guy.

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