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Florida woman charged after giving abusive husband’s guns to police

Published:Monday | June 24, 2019 | 11:13 AM
This combination of booking photos provided by the Polk County Sheriff's Office shows Courtney Irby on June 15, 2019, and her husband Joseph Irby on June 14. (Polk County Sheriff's Office via AP)

LAKELAND, Florida (AP) — A Florida woman’s effort to protect herself from domestic violence has become a flashpoint in the debate over gun rights and victims’ safety.

Courtney Irby gave her estranged husband’s guns to police after he was charged with domestic violence-aggravated battery, only to find herself arrested for theft.

Now a Florida lawmaker and gun safety advocates are championing her cause, asking a state attorney on Monday drop the charges, while gun rights advocates want her prosecuted.

Courtney Irby spent six days in jail on charges of armed burglary and grand theft after she retrieved the guns from her husband’s apartment and gave them to the Lakeland Police.

Joseph Irby was spending one day in jail at the time, accused of ramming into her car after a June 14 divorce hearing.

The judge had ordered Joseph Irby during the hearing not to use, possess or carry any weapons or ammunition.

Courtney Irby told police that she believed he wouldn't’t turn in his guns himself, so she took action.

According to her arrest report, she said she entered her husband’s apartment through a locked door without his permission.

“So you’re telling me you committed an armed burglary?” the officer asked her.

“Yes, I am but he wasn’t going to turn them in so I am doing it,” the officer said she responded.

Democratic State representative Anna Eskamani of Orlando tweeted that it’s “ridiculous” to arrest a woman in this kind of situation.

She sent a letter Monday to State Attorney Brian Haas asking that Irby not be prosecuted.

She cited research showing the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely a woman will be murdered.

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