Wisconsin domestic violence survivors, moms and mayors applauded the State Senate for passing the SAFE Act (AB 464) by unanimous voice vote today. The SAFE Act, a bipartisan bill that will save women’s lives and protect families by helping law enforcement keep guns out of the hands of abusers, passed by voice vote in the State Assembly last month. After today’s passage in the Senate, it will be sent to the governor to be signed into law.
The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed – which is why existing law prohibits criminals like rapists and domestic abusers from buying or possessing guns. But a 2008 study found that 70 percent of Wisconsin counties had no active enforcement procedure to verify that abusers comply with this law.
The SAFE Act would remedy this problem by making sure that abusers who are prohibited under current law from possessing guns are asked about firearms they own or possess, and creating a court process to hold them accountable for complying with the law.
“Five years ago, my ex-boyfriend broke into my mother’s house and shot and killed her. Then he shot me and left me for dead,” said Sarah Engle, a domestic abuse survivor from Marshfield, who testified in support of the SAFE Act before the Assembly Public Safety Committee in November. “I know the devastating effect a gun can have in the wrong hands, and this bill will help make sure other women don’t go through what I did.”
“We can keep Wisconsin communities, women and families safer if we get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers,” said Anneliese Dickman, who represents the Wisconsin chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Members of Moms Demand Action called and emailed our state senators about the importance of the bipartisan SAFE Act because we know it will save lives – and we are thrilled they approved it unanimously today.”
“This bill will save women’s lives,” said Mayor James E. Tipple of Wausau. “The SAFE Act is just common sense because it gives law enforcement the tools they need to enforce existing laws that prohibit domestic abusers from having guns. I applaud the Assembly, and now the State Senate, for acting in the best interests of Wisconsin women and families.”
The SAFE Act was successfully piloted in Sauk, Waushara, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties and is supported by law enforcement officers and court officials, as well as domestic violence advocates and survivors.