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Salon Shooting Victim's Husband Hopes to Save Lives with Christy's Law

Paul Wilson, who lost his wife, Christy, proposes legislation that would prohibit people who are going through child custody disputes and divorces from buying and possessing guns.

Paul Wilson’s life was forever changed one year ago when a man opened fire at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, killing Wilson’s wife and seven others.

Today, as Wilson and his children struggle to cope with the loss of Christy Wilson, the Lakewood father is waging a battle to spare others from the nightmare visited upon his family and others.

 Wilson is seeking public support for Christy’s Law, which he hopes will save lives. 

According to Wilson, the measure would prohibit people who are going through divorce proceedings or child custody disputes from owning or possessing a firearm, and it would require them to temporarily surrender their existing guns.

After the end of a divorce or custody battle, the guns would be returned and the ban would be lifted, according to Wilson.

Wilson said people in situations fraught with high emotions and stress have a higher chance of using guns to harm themselves or others.

Scott Dekraai was in the middle of a custody battle when he allegedly entered Salon Meritage on Oct. 12 and shot and killed his ex-wife and seven others.

“That coward walked in there and changed my life forever, which he had no right to do,” Wilson said.

A few months after the slayings, Wilson was talking to an attorney friend, Mike Balmer, about how Dekraai was allegedly able to stockpile so many weapons and ammunition.

"We thought: Something about this doesn't seem right," Wilson said. "He said, 'Let me do some research on this.' What really stuck out for us is he found a statistic that in the United States in the last three years, custody disputes [led to] 150 murders ... We thought, holy cow, that's a gigantic number."

Orange County has had a couple of high-profile cases erupting out of child-custody disputes over the past few years.

Two children, their mother and grandmother died in December 2009 in a murder-suicide at a San Clemente home, a case investigators say stemmed from a child custody dispute between the children's parents.

And Robert Allan Lehmann of Costa Mesa was convicted last month of gunning down his ex-wife and her father execution-style after losing a court battle involving education plans for his 7-year-old daughter.

Wilson said his stance has left him on the receiving end of tirades from gun-rights advocates.

"They say, 'How dare this guy want to take our guns away,"' Wilson said. "By no means are we trying to take guns away from people. We're trying to take guns away from the wrong people."

Some gun-rights supporters have even gone to the Facebook memorial page for Wilson's wife to air their complaints, he said.

"Even though it's on Christy's memorial page, they still feel the right to profess their right to have a gun. And all I can say is, I agree with you if you're doing everything by the book.

“We’re not asking you to give up your gun for the rest of your life,” Wilson said. “I want to be very, very clear on one thing: We are by no means trying to take guns [permanently] out of people’s hands.”

Wilson said couples in an amicable divorce would not be affected by the proposed legislation.

He said he received good feedback from lawmakers and law enforcement officials, but they want to wait until legislation is introduced before endorsing the idea.

In the meantime, Wilson is preparing for the one-year anniversary of the shooting, which almost took his life too.

Shortly before the rampage, he was at the salon, where his wife worked and he often got a haircut.

"I was in that salon for two hours before that coward came in," Wilson said, referring to Dekraai, the alleged shooter.

"I got a haircut that day. I said hello to every one of the [victims]," Wilson said. But "I happened to leave early that day because I had an appointment that I couldn't postpone. A hundred other times when [Christy] was getting her hair done and I was having my hair done, we'd make a day of it."

Dekraai's ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, was washing Christy Wilson's hair when the gunfire erupted. Also killed were the salon's owner, Randy Lee Fannin, 62; Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65; Laura Lee Elody, 46; Michele Daschbach Fast, 47; and David Caouette, 64.

Hattie Stretz, 74, survived her injuries.

Wilson hopes people will support Christy’s Law by signing his online petition or following the latest updates on his campaign for the legislation on Facebook.

“If we can’t send our kids to school or to church because people are out there doing these mass shootings, somehow someway we have to do something,” Wilson said.

On Friday, Wilson said he will gather with family to read letters he solicited from loved ones about his wife.

"I have a box of over a thousand letters that we decided to save for the anniversary date," Wilson said. "So we'll just sit back and read and look at the good memories of her. I think it'll be really good. I'm really glad we saved them for this day."

Every day Wilson fights through his sorrow, and said coping with his loss is a “daily struggle.”

“I don’t know how I deal with it,” Wilson said. “I’m not completely sure that I am.”

But “talking about [Christy] and fighting for this legislation is what keeps me going,” he said. “I think its Christy’s way of reaching out and continuing to be the person she was.”

-- City News Service contributed to this story. 

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

Will you support Christy's Law? 

Joker Joe October 11, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I guess the police have nothing else to do but collect guns from divorcing people. That would be male and female I suppose. How about siblings or family members? Do we take their guns also? How about the neighbors gun because he could lend it out also. The gun, machete, knife, razor, bat, etc. was not the problem. It was the Man in this case.
Angel October 11, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Bobo...Very well said :-).
Charles October 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM
"prohibit people who are going through divorce proceedings or child custody disputes from owning or possessing a firearm, and it would require them to temporarily surrender their existing guns." This sounds like it will be a huge undertaking. Tens thousands of Californians are going through divorces each year and probably a double digit percentage of them own guns. In CA assume 70,000 divorces and ten percent. That's 7000 guns.
shell October 11, 2012 at 04:41 PM
100% abosolutely against this and I dont mean disrespect for the family here but I have been in a custody battle for 8 years it is very high conflict, my ex actually has two guns, but I know from living in family court that there are already laws on the books its called restraining orders and guess what even with restraining orders if a person wants to shoot someone they will they wont follow the law what you create is a bunch of innocent law abiding citizens becoming sitting ducks for those few crazies that loose it.What about people whose jobs require them to have guns military,police, secruity gaurds, FBI etc. Stop it stop this emotional driven illogical pursuit where you try to do good but make things worse....the Domestic Violence laws meant to protect women after the OJ trial now actually harm women the abusers learn the law and then figure out how to use the law to actually harm the person its meant to protect....men will hit a woman and then when she defends herself he already knows the law he sets her up and calls the police and claims her is the victim and the woman is sent to jail. This would creat the same situations.....unless you live in family court like many of do this family is creating a can of worms and I will be the first to go to the State to fight this bill being passed and I am a great example of a high conflict divorce that doesnt lead to gun violence....what we need is lawyers who learn how to reduce conflict in custody issues instead of creating it
shell October 11, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Much of the conflict is created or added by attorneys and judges. Work on having more peaceful resolutions and processes in court not taking away our rights. This family doesnt know family court....noted by his statement "150 murders every year" really? That is nothing a droplet in the ocean of divorce and custody cases. Hey we know this family is hurting but I will not sit back and let this family try to pass this law or anythinng close to it.......I will fight this. What happened to this family would have not have been stopped by a new law the shooter was preplanning it he was determined to do what he did no laws can stop crazies.
Gina Lou October 11, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Weird law that probably won't go through. Who is stable during divorce and/or custody? Take the guns, but there's plenty more along with knives.
Just Sayin' October 11, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Most of you are missing the point. The intent is not to take away our second amendment rights, but to give a threatened spouse a chance at life. If an estranged spouse feels threatened, they would petition the court who would then do an evaluation. If the person being evaluated has a history of domestic violence, mental health issues, and poses a threat, the court would then decide if they should surrender their firearms or prevent them registering to buy a gun, until the dispute is settled. If you do not have these issues, you have nothing to worry about. Christy's Law does not say that everyone in a custody/divorce dispute should have their guns taken away, it says if you are a threat based on your history and mental health status, then yes, you should not have a gun. Try to understand the law as it is written and don't make up your own analysis of it.
mocker October 11, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Several good responses ive read that are against this silly attempt to turn back the clock on one persons tragedy. Millions are divorcing, custody battles can be as long as 18 years, and we know who this is really aimed at, MEN. Another blame game vs. Victim. Most public opinion and certainly 80% of courts favour women in divorce. Now another way to say that men are a threat will be exploited by the wife and her attorney. No one will be safe from the court making sure were 'safe'. Its just another way to regulate who can do what and a new tax will be created to do it. Lets just enforce the zillion laws on the books when someone does break them, lets enjoy a FREE society, lets accept the risks inherent to it. Lets not seize peoples property which doesnt stop bad people anyway from getting a weapon. Lets enforce child custody laws fairly for a change so people wont feel so powerless in a system that was supposed to protect their rights instead of abrogating them
Just Sayin' October 11, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Mocker, your name is appropriate as you mock the system. You seem disgruntled and perhaps you are someone who went through a lengthy divorce or custody battle. Again, you miss the point. If you are sane, safe, and a law abiding citizen without any history of violent behavior, then you have nothing to worry about. You're insensitivity to the thousands of lives lost over the course of these disgruntled spouses is alarming. You say let's live freely, well, how can you expect that from someone who has been battered, beaten, threatened, and is afraid for their life and the lives of their children. And yes, women can be a threat too, saying this is aimed at men is narrow-minded. If you are a safe and law abiding person who poses no threat to anyone, you have nothing to worry about. This guy should have never been allowed to regain his weapons. 8 people would be alive today.
Rockit October 11, 2012 at 08:36 PM
A friend said, I think there's too many variables and this law would create more problems than it would solve. If someone really wants a gun they can get one... I agree. In my opinion, it's a flawed system that sets people up for "fighting" upon separation, that needs to be changed. ongoing litigation, ( what many times turns into an intense, epic legal battle) can drain anyone of emotion, money, energy and finally, sanity. I think a lot of times, this is what makes people desparate/finished/angry enough to do crazy things. In my opinion, what I think would help situations like this is a change in the "system" - there are several things I would change - to shorten the duration of separation/custody litigation. especially in cases where there are indications or past records of violence... for example: the first law I would change is the one which states that married persons with children must wait one year (of purgatory) before filing for a divorce. in cases of DV, this creates a huge landslide into unending litigation... years and years of continually being in court for one thing then the next and redoing everything over and over again until who fuckin knows what because there is NO law out there to make the crap STOP. if someone has been under attack in their own home and leaves for their own safety, the system should not FORCE them to continue to be married to the aggressor so that the cycle of violence can then be translated into legal battles with no end.
Rockit October 11, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I have been in the courtroom continually now for 31 months and am not any closer to being done with divorce and custody litigation that I was on day 1 of leaving my home to stay in the battered woman's shelter. My kids have been through hell. The laws and system seriously calls for change.
Hopeful October 11, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Some good points here. I agree with Just Sayin, although I do believe that other changes ( which have been mentioned) need to be done as well. The bottom line is, the family courts have to put a stop to lengthy litigations that run for years by controlling/limiting the issues constantly being created and encouraged by attorneys ( enforcing code of ethics), and setting and enforcing time limit for the divorce process. Most importantly, the system has to ensure that judges and mediators have adequate knowledge and education on mental and personality disorders which tragically impact the divorce process and outcome, and, in most cases, continue post-divorce.
Just Sayin' October 11, 2012 at 10:57 PM
While I also agree with comments regarding the lengthy litigations and changes that need to be made in divorce court and child custody proceedings... it is off topic of what we are discussing. If it takes a month of five years, time has nothing to do with a ticking time bomb that could explode any moment. The focus here is removing weapons from a potentially dangerous individual to prevent him or her from taking a life, their own life, or the life of the child, who in many cases is used to hurt the other parent. Bottom line, if Scott Dekraii didn't have his weapons returned to him, would he have been able to get one illegally? perhaps, when there is a wil there is a way, but is it better to ignore something that we can avoid or shouldn't we just TRY harder?
Mark B October 11, 2012 at 11:30 PM
this strikes me as another well intentioned law that will have untold consequences beyond the authors' and supporters' intentions. I tend to resist special-purpose laws of this type on general principle. If a law is needed, I'd think one more broad in scope would be more appropriate.
RealOC October 11, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I cant believe some of these people commenting , like they really rely on guns ? ITs a joke what is this the wild west or cowboy and indian days ? most people that own guns go shooting once or twice a year and say its for protection? yea when your young kid or teen thats getting bullied gets ahold of your almighty gun /protection device its a different story or you forget to put the safety on your gun and your siz year old gets it and dies from it? Guns in Subburban cities seem sooo foolish to me. I Give this guy a lot of positive praise for going above and beyond to help save peoples lives and prevent future shooting from happening!! Great law and I support the law 100 % God Bless you WIlson and I pray for your family!!! you our very kind hearted to push this in our Oc Communities
April Josephson October 12, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Excellent point, Charles. It seems like an unrealistic undertaking.
Hopeful October 12, 2012 at 05:15 AM
In divorce situations, a potentially dangerous individual would be able find a way to hurt his/her spouse, whether using a gun, a knife, fire, etc. Although it could make it less easier, taking the gun away is not THE solution. They should start at the root cause in most cases. Based on my first-hand experience, after having gone through years of a long-drawn custody battle ( which continues post-divorce), failing to recognize the existence and role of mental and personality disorders in high-conflict divorce cases leads to escalation of animosity . The build-up of anger and hostility results from years of being emotionally,physically, psychologically, financially drained, which could lead to rage and violence. I am not trying to imply that this alone would solve the problem. I do believe that there is a need to address this from every angle which, if done concurrently, could possibly save people's sanity, and most importantly, their lives.
Rockit October 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM
the point is, it's the process that tips people over the edge more times than not... the longer it goes on, the more money is lost, the angrier people get... the more likely it is that a violent act will happen. it's usually not at the beginning of the process... it's usually after custody has been determined, and supervised exchanges aren't granted, and the losing (violent) party is at his angriest... the basis for a lot of domestic violence is the need to "get even" ...
Rockit October 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
"The build-up of anger and hostility results from years of being emotionally,physically, psychologically, financially drained, which could lead to rage and violence." Hopeful - EXACTLY
Steve Huff October 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I'd like to see the law that prevents anyone with a history of mental illness combined with a history of making threats "with guns", be prohibited from owning a gun. That would be an enforceable law...IMHO...
Jhon Walker October 14, 2012 at 10:38 AM
If an estranged spouse feels threatened under current law they can file for a restraining order and the gun owning spouse has to sell or surrender their firearms within 48hrs. The restraining order is on file, and is grounds for denial when the gun dealer's registry of sale goes to the California Department of Justice. This is just another "feel good" proposal by somebody who feels the have to "do something". A better effort would be to make California a "shall issue" state for licenses to carry concealed weapons so people like Christy's husband can carry a weapon to protect themselves or their loved ones. You're responsible for your own personal safety. If you think the police will do it, you only deluding yourself. The police are under no legal obligation to protect the public.
Cortex October 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM
"I guess the police have nothing else to do but collect guns from divorcing people." Because we all of course know that divorcing people need their guns, machetes, knives, razors, et cetera to protect the sanctity of the precious heterosexual marriage.
R. J. Steelworth October 14, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I'll let all of you in on a secret. There are already laws on the books that cover this. While there is not mandatory confiscation during divorce proceedings, there are laws in place that given proper evidence, require surrender of firearms.
John B. Greet October 14, 2012 at 03:45 PM
R.J. is correct. Law enforcement routinely collects firearms, for temporary safe-keeping, from homes where domestic violence has occurred. Judges who issue restraining orders have also been known to require the temporary surrender of any firearms the restrained person might own or possess. I don't think that divorce proceedings should automatically trigger firearm surrender. Many, if not most, such proceedings are entirely amicable and in those cases it makes no sense to deprive either party in the divorce of their lawful right to own and/or possess a firearm to protect themselves in their own home or place of business. And what of cops themselves? Cops tend to have high divorce rates. A cop who has his or her firearms confiscated cannot work. Is it right to deprive a cop of his or her ability to earn a living, simply because he or she is going through a divorce? Where is the justification for such a sweeping directive, particularly in the complete absence of any violence or threats of violence? A judge can already order the temporary surrender of firearms if the circumstances in an individual case seem to warrant it. This proposed law goes too far.
Tired of Family Court October 15, 2012 at 03:45 AM
How many women have setup their exhusbands with bogus tales of DV? Beleive me, read both sides of the blogsphere before you assume that is "the Domestic Violence laws meant to protect women after the OJ trial now actually harm women the abusers learn the law and then figure out how to use the law to actually harm the person its meant to protect....men will hit a woman and then when she defends herself he already knows the law he sets her up and calls the police and claims her is the victim and the woman is sent to jail.". My ex set me up in court and I haven't seen my kids for 6 years because of it.

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