Another grim CDV tragedy

Charleston County Sheriff's Department and Coroner's Office personnel investigate a shooting that left two women and one man dead at 1429 Richard McCoud Lane, on Wadmalaw Island, Sunday. (Brad Nettles/staff)

Sunday’s double murder-suicide on Wadmalaw Island was a terrible, tragic event — and should steel the Legislature’s intent to craft a strong response to criminal domestic violence (CDV) this year.

Any bill to reasonably deal with the perpetrators of domestic violence and to protect their victims must give police and prosecutors an enhanced ability to confront and punish the guilty — even when victims decline to testify against their assailants.

As recounted in our Tuesday report, Kennitha LaBoard had called police three separate times about being beaten or threatened by Termaine Frasier, with whom she had an on-and-off relationship for several years — and with whom she had two children.

Only in the first incident was Mr. Frasier actually arrested, and charges were later dropped because Ms. LaBoard declined to cooperate with authorities.

As noted in The Post and Courier series “Till Death Do Us Part,” such reluctance by victims to tell their stories in court is a frequent and frustrating barrier to halting the cycle of domestic violence. Incidents of abuse can intensify over time, and can ultimately end in death.

So it was on Sunday, when Ms. LaBoard and her mother, Althea Goss, were shot to death by Mr. Frasier, who then turned the gun on himself.

That should give legislators pause for reflection on the reality that 65 percent of those who die due to criminal domestic violence are killed with a gun.

State law should require those who have been found guilty of committing criminal domestic violence to relinquish their firearms to police. And it should prohibit those who are facing domestic violence charges from possessing a gun while the case is pending.

Both Senate and House bills include provisions to ban for 10 years the ownership of firearms by those found guilty of CDV. But opposition is expected as the bills are debated.

Lawmakers should take the opportunity to inform their efforts by reading the transcript of the 911 tape in which one woman begs for her life before being shot to death, and the other screams in horror before she, too, is killed.

Indeed, listening to the tape itself might be more compelling as work on the bills continues.

Even legislators who generally oppose further legal limits on the right of gun ownership might be moved to rethink that ill-considered position when faced with the horror of the moment.

Legislators should recognize that without their resolve, variations on that terrifying theme will be played and replayed in other places and other situations, all too often to the same fatal conclusion.