Nearly two dozen domestic violence survivors and advocates are heading to Washington next week for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 30 – “Violence Against Women Act Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence” – the first-ever hearing on the loopholes in federal law that allow dangerous abusers and stalkers to buy and keep guns. These loopholes are major contributors to the deadly relationship between domestic violence and guns, as original research by Everytown shows:
- In an average month, 48 women in the U.S. are shot to death by intimate partners.
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered.
- More than half of women murdered with guns in the U.S. in 2010 — at least 53 percent — were killed by intimate partners or family members.
- Over the past 25 years, more intimate partner homicides in the U.S. have been committed with guns than with all other weapons combined.
- American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries.
Prior to the hearing, Everytown for Gun Safety will fly-in nearly two dozen domestic violence survivors and advocates from Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia. Survivors and advocates will urge members of Congress to support Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) Protecting Domestic and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1290), which would protect victims of stalking and dating abuse by ensuring that abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers can’t legally buy and possess guns. Although more women in the U.S. are killed by dating partners than by spouses, current federal law prohibits gun possession by abusive spouses but generally allows those who abuse their dating partners to continue to buy and have guns.
Everytown and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have made significant progress on this front – in just the first half of 2014, the organization worked with domestic violence prevention advocates to pass important bills in six states that will help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. These measures have been passed by state houses with bipartisan support and signed into law by governors of both parties, including both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Spokespeople available for interviews before and after hearing:
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, is a 43-year-old mother of five children. Watts was not an activist or involved in gun issues prior to the shootings at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012. The day after the tragedy, she started a Facebook page called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Since then, Moms Demand Action has grown to include a chapter in every state of the country and is now part of Everytown for Gun Safety. Watts’ goal is for Moms Demand Action to become the Mothers Against Drunk Driving of safe gun laws.
John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety, previously served as Chief Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Feinblatt leads former Mayor Bloomberg’s national coalition on gun violence prevention. He previously served as the Criminal Justice Coordinator for the City of New York and was the founding director of the Center for Court Innovation, the country’s leading think tank devoted to problem-solving justice.
Elvin Daniel’s sister, Zina Daniel Haughton, was shot and killed by her estranged husband in October 2012 at the Brookfield, WI salon and spa where she worked. Her estranged husband was issued a restraining order days before the shooting and was therefore prohibited from possessing a firearm. He found a private seller through Armslist.com. Because the private seller was not required to conduct a criminal background check, he was able to purchase a semi-automatic handgun. The next day he used the gun to shoot seven people, killing Zina and two other women, before he committed suicide. Elvin lives in Illinois and is a gun owner and member of the NRA.
Elizabeth Albright-Battles is an attorney with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization that provides resources including community outreach, counseling, and training to victims of abuse.
Sara Barber is the Executive Director for the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The coalition brings together 22 of the state’s domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy programs in a joint effort to provide services to survivors and to increase awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Kimberly Brusk had a temporary restraining order against her now ex-husband when he attempted to shoot her with a shotgun in her home. Kimberly currently serves as an Advisory Board Member on the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force.
John Cantin’s daughter Missy was shot and killed by her estranged husband in 2009 and John was also shot in the incident. A Manchester resident, John has been an advocate against domestic violence abuse and gun violence since his daughter’s murder. He is also a veteran and the commissioner for the Victims Compensation program in New Hampshire.
Bonnie Campbell was elected Attorney General of Iowa in 1990 and served until 1994. She is the only woman in Iowa to have served in that role. She strengthened Iowa’s domestic violence laws, increased funding for victim compensation programs and shelters, and wrote what became a model statute on anti-stalking for states around the country. Bonnie was then appointed by President Clinton to serve as the inaugural head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Office, which was created as part of the landmark bipartisan 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
Sarah Kenney is the Associate Director of Public Policy at the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. The organization serves as a statewide advocacy and training resource on domestic and sexual violence. Last year the 14 member programs provided direct services to approximately 8,500 residents and responded to more than 25,000 calls. Sarah serves as the Network’s representative on the state’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission, which has been tracking homicides in VT for the past 20 years. Because more than half of Vermont’s domestic violence related homicides have been committed with firearms, the organization has been working to recommend and implement reforms that will keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
Marie Kirkendolph’s mother was killed by her abusive stepfather, and her sister was shot and killed by her husband. She is now a member of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and she works to reduce domestic abuse. Marie advocates for policies that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Clai Lasher-Sommers was shot in the back by her abusive stepfather when she was 13. She went on to establish a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center in upstate New York. She now lives in her home state of New Hampshire where
Christy Martin is a former championship boxer who was in an abusive relationship with her husband and manager for many years. When she told her husband she was leaving him, he stabbed her several times and then shot her in the chest with her own gun.
Sue Meuschke is the Executive Director for the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence. NNADV works to both reduce domestic violence and to raise awareness about the many issues victims face as a result. Under Sue’s leadership, NNADV has played a leading role in statewide efforts to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Beth Meeks is the Executive Director for the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. LCADV is a statewide coalition of shelters, non-residential programs, and individuals working together to end domestic violence across the state. Beth works to raise awareness about domestic violence and to discuss the progress that has been made. In May 2014, Governor Jindal signed into effect a law prohibiting domestic violence offenders from possessing a firearm—a bill that was a top legislative priority was a top legislative priority for LCADV.
Suzanne Palmer is Program Director for the Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia. The organization provides immediate resources and services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Suzanne has been an advocate for domestic violence victims for the past decade and supports common-sense gun laws that make will communities safer.
Katie Ray-Jones is President of The National Domestic Violence Hotline, the only national hotline designed specifically to provide direct services to victims of domestic violence 24/7. The organization also focuses on the dangers of firearms in domestic violence situations. Katie is also a member of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Kate Ranta and her father were shot by her estranged husband in front of her 4-year-old son. Kate had a restraining order against him, which was dropped after his guns were involuntarily taken by authorities. He was able to obtain another gun and followed her to her new home where he first shot through her door. He then forced his way into the apartment and shot Kate again. Kate was shot through middle of her right hand and in the left breast, and her father was shot in his upper left arm and rib cage. He is now in jail awaiting trial. Kate is a national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America.
Shannon Rich is the Public Policy Manager at the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence where she helps to provide around-the-clock services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Because the vast majority of domestic violence homicides in Arizona are gunshot-related, Shannon is well aware of the dangers of firearms in domestic violence situations.
Debby Tucker is Executive Director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. NCDSV provides legal and policy training to professionals who work with both domestic and sexual violence victims and perpetrators. Debbie served as Founding Chair of the National Network to End Domestic Violence during the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. She was the Co-Chair of the U.S. Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence from 2000 to 2003, and was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame by Governor Rick Perry in 2014.
Ken Wade is Executive Director of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an advocacy organization that provides legal support for domestic violence victims and their children.
Kendra Wyckoff currently serves as Executive Director for the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. This nationally recognized coalition consists of a network of constituents that help to increase public awareness and community mobilization and provides training and programs to a wide range of individuals.
Valerie Wynn has worked with domestic and sexual violence victims for the past 18 years, and has provided trainings across the country and around the world. Her passion for meeting the needs of abused women and children led her to open The Mary Parrish Center for Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence (MPC). Today, MPC is one of the largest single-site therapeutic transitional housing programs for women and children in Tennessee. Valerie is also a survivor of an abusive relationship. She believes she is alive today because her perpetrator did not have access to a weapon or gun.