Well Past Time to Take Women Out From Under the Gun and Disarm Domestic Abusers

How Gun Violence Affects Women and Four Policy Solutions to Better Protect Them
Weak gun laws at the federal and state levels leave far too many women facing a fatal end to domestic abuse.

— by Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons  from the Center for American Progress

Violence against women looks very different than violence against men. Whether in the context of sexual assault on college campuses or in the military, violence by an intimate partner, or other types of violent victimization, women’s experiences of violence in this country are unique from those of men. One key difference in the violence committed against women in the United States is who commits it: Women are much more likely to be victimized by people they know, while men are more likely to be victims of violent crime at the hands of strangers. Between 2003 and 2012, 65 percent of female violent crime victims were targeted by someone they knew; only 34 percent of male violent crime victims knew their attackers. Intimate partners make up the majority of known assailants: During the same time period, 34 percent of all women murdered were killed by a male intimate partner, compared to the only 2.5 percent of male murder victims killed by a female intimate partner.

DomesticGunViolenceA staggering portion of violence against women is fatal, and a key driver of these homicides is access to guns. From 2001 through 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in the United States by an intimate partner using a gun—more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. Guns are used in fatal intimate partner violence more than any other weapon: Of all the women killed by intimate partners during this period, 55 percent were killed with guns. Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than are women in other high income countries.

Limiting abusers and stalkers’ access to firearms is therefore critical to reduce the number of women murdered in this country every year. This idea is not new: Congress first acted 20 years ago to strengthen our gun laws to prevent some domestic abusers from buying guns. But we are still a long way from having a comprehensive system of laws in place at both the federal and state levels that protect women—and children and men—from fatal violence in the context of intimate and domestic relationships. This report provides an overview of the data regarding the intersection of intimate partner violence and gun violence, describing four policies that states and the federal government should enact to reduce dangerous abusers’ access to guns and prevent murders of women:

  • Bar all convicted abusers, stalkers, and people subject to related restraining orders from possessing guns.
  • Provide all records of prohibited abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.
  • Require a background check for all gun sales.
  • Ensure that abusers surrender any firearms they own once they become prohibited.

Some states have already adopted some of these policies, and in the past 12 months, there has been a growing movement across the country to enact laws closing some gaps related to domestic abusers’ gun access in several states, including Wisconsin, Washington, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Minnesota.

This report collected and analyzed data from a variety of sources, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI; the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC; the Office of Violence Against Women; state criminal justice agencies; state domestic violence fatality review boards; and academic research. These data provide a snapshot of women’s experiences of violence in this country and show the glaring gaps in state and federal laws that leave victims of domestic violence and stalking vulnerable to gun violence. Many of these data have not been made public prior to the publication of this report and were collected through Freedom of Information Act requests. Among our findings:

  • In 15 states, more than 40 percent of all homicides of women in each state involved intimate partner violence. In 36 states, more than 50 percent of intimate partner-related homicides of women in each state involved a gun.
  • A review of conviction records in 20 states showed that there are at least 11,986 individuals across the country who have been convicted of misdemeanor-level stalking but are still permitted to possess guns under federal law. It is likely that there are tens of thousands of additional convicted stalkers who are able to buy guns.
  • While submission of records regarding convicted misdemeanant domestic abusers to the FBI’s NICS Index has increased 132 percent over the past five-and-a-half years, only three states appear to be submitting reasonably complete records—Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. Records from these three states account for 79 percent of the total records submitted to the FBI.

Every day in the United States, five women are murdered with guns. Many of these fatal shootings occur in the context of a domestic or intimate partner relationship. However, women are not the only victims. Shooters have often made children, police officers, and their broader communities additional targets of what begins as an intimate partner shooting. In fact, one study found that more than half of the mass shootings in recent years have started with or involved the shooting of an intimate partner or a family member. Enacting a comprehensive set of laws and enforcement strategies to disarm domestic abusers and stalkers will reduce the number of women who are murdered by abusers with guns—and it will make all Americans safer.

Arkadi Gerney is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Chelsea Parsons is Director of Crime and Firearms Policy at the Center.

Additional Resources:


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

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Nevada’s Domestic Violence Survivors Are Counting on You

Judy Waxman

— by Judy Waxman

Vice President for Health & Reproductive Rights
National Women’s Law Center

For some women, the greatest threat to their lives could be the man she lives with. For women in Nevada, ranked first in the nation in domestic violence homicides, something as simple as getting out of their apartment rental agreement could mean the difference between life or death.

Nevada’s state lawmakers are considering a bill that would help survivors of domestic violence by giving them the ability to end their rental agreement after a domestic violence incident. But the pressure from lobbyists will make this a close vote. We need your help today — tell your state Senator to stand with domestic violence survivors and support AB 284.

In Nevada, a woman is more than twice as likely to be killed by a partner as the average American woman. Domestic violence survivors face many challenges but moving to safety or leaving their abuser shouldn’t be one of them.

This week, your state Senator will vote on a bill that can make it easier for women to leave her unsafe home. Tell them to stand up for survivors of domestic violence and support AB 284.


I just took action by telling my state Senator to stand with domestic violence survivors in Nevada and support AB 284, and I hope you will, too.

Nevada’s state lawmakers are considering a bill that would help survivors of domestic violence by giving them the ability to end their rental agreement after a domestic violence incident. But the pressure from lobbyists will make this a close vote.  Here’s a copy of my customized letter:

This bill will help survivors of domestic violence by giving them the ability to end their rental agreement after a domestic violence incident. Domestic violence survivors face many challenges; moving to safety or leaving their abuser shouldn’t be one of them.

As a survivor of domestic violence, I cannot tell you how important that is. I was in the Navy at the time.  My commanding officer was so concerned that my violent spouse, from whom I’d filed for divorce, would shoot up the communications center in an effort to get to me, that he helped me get a transfer to someplace where I was more likely to be safe from him … Iceland.  I also had a landlord at the time who was understanding of my situation and who waved the remaining lease requirements.  I was lucky, and I’m alive and well today because of those who helped me.  Many women aren’t.

Domestic violence isn’t something to be ignored. As of 2011, Nevada ranked first in the nation in domestic violence homicides. Requiring that law enforcement get involved in a domestic violence situation will not always ensure the safety of the woman. Many times, the survivor first needs to seek safety away from the abuser. Please ensure that the written statement from the third party qualified list remains included as a means to allow women to leave an unsafe situation. This list is primarily made up of licensed professionals such as a clergy member and will address the realities of domestic violence, specifically the high rate of domestic violence that occurs where law enforcement is not involved.

I urge you to stand with domestic violence survivors by voting YES on AB 284.

Please take the time to tell your state Senator to support AB 284 and make it easier for survivors of domestic violence to leave their abusers

Take Action

GOP Darling, Marco Rubio, Voted Against VAWA

In a statement explaining “why” he voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Senator Marco Rubio clearly illustratedhis biases when he said,

“Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences. Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there’s no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions. These funding decisions should be left up to the state-based coalitions that understand local needs best, but instead this new legislation would put those decisions into the hands of distant Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Justice. Additionally, I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians.”

Decisions should be left to the states?  Those same “red” states that are clearly restricting womens’ rights?  And why in the world would he be against allowing tribal governments to prosecute domestic abusers and those who commit sexual assault on tribal lands?  Does he prefer to leave those incidents in nowhere land?  THAT is not leadership!

Oh yeah … and if he get’s a serious case of dry-mouth while standing alone in a room in front of a cameraman delivering a rehearsed speech, how much water is he gonna need to stand on a debate stage and attempt to debate Hillary Clinton?

S47: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Since its original passage in 1994, VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) has dramatically enhanced our nation’s response to violence against girls and women, boys and men. More victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 64%.

VAWA provides for a coordinated community approach, improving collaboration between law enforcement and victim services providers to better meet the needs of victims. These comprehensive and cost-effective programs not only save lives, they also save money. In fact, VAWA saved nearly $12.6 billion in net averted social costs in just its first six years.

A significant number of Senators appreciate the savings in terms of both social and financial costs, but twenty two members of the right-wing clearly see no value in continuing such efforts.  S47—the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013—passed the Senate on February 12th with a 78/22 vote.  Here’s the list of Senators who prefer to escalate the war on women:

  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. James Risch (R-ID)   ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)  ….  up for re-election in 2014
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SC)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)  ….  up for re-election in 2016
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2018
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-TX)  ….  up for re-election in 2018
  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)  ….  up for re-election in 2018

22-VAWA-NOs

Get to know these faces ladies.  It’s time to watch closely,  just exactly how they vote on issues near and dear to our hearts.  If, through their words, their actions and their votes, they’re showing us that WE have NO value, then it’s clearly time that WE, as women, show them that they have no value and that WE no longer want them in decision and leadership positions where they would be able to impose their lack of values on us.  Two faces in particular are quite disappointing, Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.  Apparently they’ve clearly joined the “I’ve got mine, good luck getting yours” club.

Reauthorization of the law, first passed in 1994, now heads to the House, where swift passage is far from guaranteed. House Republicans killed the legislation last year, though Democrats have now dropped some of the provisions that drew GOP objections, including expanded visas for abused immigrants.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rubio-gop-white-house-hopefuls-oppose-violence-women-act-article-1.1263096#ixzz2KpTyVbqF

ADVOCACY: Tell House Republicans—STOP Blocking VAWA

Sometimes it really seems like the House Republicans must be staying up nights, trying to think of ways to be bigger jerks.

Case in point, the Violence Against Women Act. Since it was passed in 1994, it has protected countless women across America from domestic violence by providing resources for local law enforcement to fight domestic abuse. A popular and effective program, it was reauthorized again and again without controversy.

And… House Republicans have refused to hold a vote to re-authorize it. Even though it passed in the Senate by a wide margin. Unbelievable (and yet, all too believable)

Take action, send a message, and tell House Republicans to allow a vote, and to re-authorize this critical program.  Send repeated tweets, leave a note on your Representative’s Facebook Page, send an email to your Representative, or sign the petition at LeftAction.

Sign-the-Petition-blu.fw

My Tweet:  @RepAmodei Unless you’ve had a 45 held to your head by a spouse, you cannot begin to appreciate the need for VAWA!  Reauthorize VAWA—NOW!