Domestic violence takes the lives of many every day. Domestic abuse that leads to loss of life can be prevented if we attempt to prohibit domestic abusers from getting their hands on guns since the majority of domestic deaths are by bullet. Domestic abusers by federal law are prohibited from buying guns. In 1997 the Lautenberg amendment added domestic violence misdemeanors to the category of prohibited gun purchasers.
But these purchases only apply for licensed dealers as was written into law in the Brady law. There are plenty of places where domestic abusers with intent to harm a partner, spouse, dating partner to get guns. These would be from private sellers at gun shows, flea markets and on-line sites like armslist.com which allow for gun purchases with no background checks. Do these sellers know anything about the buyers? Do they care? If no background check is required, how would a seller know whether the person to whom they are selling means to kill someone with their lethal product?
When Radcliffe Haughton bought his gun on Armslist.com, did the private seller know anything about this prohibited purchaser? Did the seller know that Haughton’s intent with that gun was to shoot his wife and in the process kill 3 others at a spa near Milwaukee?
Women in America are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high income countries. Why do we tolerate this?
Our nation’s lax gun laws contribute to the ease with which domestic abusers can acquire the weapon used to kill someone they know, love or loved previously. A gun is the ultimate power and control. We can do something about this and some states are. Minnesota is one of the states that passed a law two years ago to make it possible to take guns from known domestic abusers with orders for protection, restraining orders or stalking. From the linked article:
Around three U.S. women a day are killed by intimate partners, according to several domestic violence advocacy groups, including the National Network To End Domestic Violence. Experts on the topic say that women are in the most danger when leaving a relationship — and that’s why it’s imperative that authorities prioritize disarming abusers once a restraining order is granted.
“Often times, when she takes out that order of protection, she’s testing the relationship to find out if she can safely leave, and she’s testing the system to find out if they honor and respect what she says she needs help with,” said Kit Gruelle, an advocate who has worked with domestic violence survivors for 30 years. “Unfortunately, for some women these pieces of paper do become their last will and testament.”
There are no national statistics on the percentage of domestic homicide victims who had restraining orders against their killers at their time of death, but research has indicated that restraining orders are violated around 40 percent of the time. There’s also some evidence that strengthening gun laws for abusers may save lives: According to one study, states that restrict abusers subject to restraining orders from accessing guns have been associated with reduced rates of domestic homicides. (…)
“Having interviewed killers about this, there’s a moment of time and a window of opportunity for them to kill,” he said. “Many of the killers said something to the effect of ‘24 hours before the incident, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,’ really obsessed. If they have a gun during that opportunity and access to her, it was going happen. If they didn’t have a gun, that moment may have forever passed.”
One study found that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes itfive times more likely a woman will be murdered by her abuser. Over half of all women killed by intimate partners between 2001 to 2012 were killed using a gun, according to the Center for American Progress.
Why would we make it easy for those who mean harm to be able to get guns? Good question. One has to wonder what the gun lobby and gun extremists are thinking about when they strongly resist laws to require Brady background checks on all gun sales? Are they actually thinking about the potential for the loss of human life? Or is making money more important? I think we know the answer. Any common sense suggestions about keeping guns away from those who shouldn’t have them ends with abject rejection and no middle ground possible.
Two days ago I spoke at an Americans for Responsible Solutions titled: “Harnessing the Advocacy of Women for the Safety of Women.” Women understand that when a gun is in the home, they are less safe. Day after day we are “treated” to stories about men who, in a moment of anger, jealousy, rage or depression, kill women, children, aunts, uncles, boyfriends, spouses, ex spouses, ex girlfriends, ex boyfriends and other sometimes innocent people who happen to be in the vicinity of the shooter.
My panel was about telling stories. I told the story of my sister’s shooting in a domestic dispute over a contentious divorce. My remarks started with one of my favorite sections of Anne Tyler’s book, the Accidental Tourist. Here is what I said:
Stories are important. Without them, I’m not sure the public would believe what goes on inside the homes of so many Americans. I often think of the scene in Anne Tyler’s book- The Accidental Tourist, when the protagonist, Macon Leary, a travel agent who hates to travel, goes on a business trip. Macon is lonely and wants every place he visits to feel like home. As he looks out the window of his plane taking him out of his comfort zone, Macon remarks that he can see the little houses below and wonders what is going on inside of those houses. He then concludes that we can never know what is happening in the privacy of people’s homes even while we are looking.
Macon’s son was also shot in a fast food restaurant and his marriage disintegrated as a result. This book mirrors real life even though fiction.
The other story tellers were Lucia McBath, whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot in Florida after a permit to carry holder decided he didn’t like the loud music coming from a car full of kids so he shot at the car and killed Jordan. So incredibly senseless and tragic. The shooter was unable to get off on a Stand Your Ground law and was convicted. Lucia is a beautiful composed woman who is a spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety. Following Lucy was Barbara Parker whose daughter Alison was shot and killed in Roanoke ,Virginia on live TV. Amazingly this mother could stand in front of a room full of people and speak with grace and dignity about this heinous shooting. And next was Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She was shot twice in the head by her husband- her abuser- and survived. Her son observed the shooting. Six months later, he shot and killed himself.
Since women are the majority of Americans at the moment and are affected greatly by domestic abuse and domestic violence, activating that group will change the way we are doing things. The gun lobby understands this about women. And that is why they are deceiving some into thinking buying a gun will allow them to defend themselves against a man who intends harm. They are wrong. Few, if any, examples of this occur. But we do know that many examples of women being abused and killed by guns are in the news every day.
We’ve all had #enough. It’s time for action.
Join me and the organizations working on the issue of domestic violence, domestic abuse and gun violence to make the changes we deserve. Saving lives is the bottom line.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
Americans for Responsible Solutions
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
And the many many others in states and cities all over America. Together we can make a difference.