UPDATE July 5, 2019:
A Florida prosecutor has downgraded the charges facing a woman who seized her estranged husband's guns after he was accused of domestic violence, CNN reports.
On Wednesday, Florida State Attorney Brian Haas announced Courtney Irby will be charged only with misdemeanor trespassing.
June 24, 2019:
POLK COUNTY, Fla. (KTLA/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 assault rifle and handgun 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.
After her husband’s arrest, Courtney Irby petitioned for a temporary injunction for protection, which was granted. Federal law prohibits people under a domestic violence restraining order from possessing guns, but it’s up to local law enforcement to enforce it, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Courtney Irby told police that she believed he wouldn’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 and took the guns to a police station.
“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.
Joseph Irby’s charges involve an altercation that began with a shouting match after the divorce hearing. According to his arrest report, they both got into their cars and then he used his vehicle to strike her back bumper several times, running her off the road.
Courtney Irby told a responding officer that “she feared for her life,” his arrest report said.
In requesting that she be released on bond, Courtney Irby’s attorney argued that she didn’t commit theft since she didn’t take the guns for her personal use and didn’t benefit by taking them.