Everytown for Gun Safety today released a new television and online advertisement depicting a harrowing encounter of domestic abuse and gun violence ahead of this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing – “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. The ad can be seen here. It will air on cable television in Washington, D.C., and also on network television in Arizona, Nevada and New Hampshire where the ad calls specifically on Senators Jeff Flake (AZ), Dean Heller (NV) and Kelly Ayotte (NH) to close the loopholes that contribute to the deadly relationship between domestic violence and guns. Research reveals:
- In an average month, 48 women in the U.S. are shot to death by intimate partners.
- American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries.
- 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. – at least 52 percent – are 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.
Everytown is joined in Washington this week by 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, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Survivors and advocates are urging members of Congress to support Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1290), which would protect victims of stalking and dating abuse by ensuring that abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers cannot 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. S.1290 would close this loophole by prohibiting abusers from possessing guns regardless of whether they abuse a dating partner or a spouse. The legislation would also prohibit convicted stalkers from having guns.
One of the survivors joining Everytown in D.C. this week is Elvin Daniel, a gun owner and NRA member who will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and will share the story of how his sister Zina was murdered, along with two other women, by her estranged husband at a salon in Brookfield, Wisconsin, in 2012.
“Each month, on average, 48 women like my sister pay a very dear price for our country’s lax federal gun laws: their lives,” said Daniel. “As a proud gun owner, avid hunter, and NRA member, I know that Senator Klobuchar’s bill will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, not law-abiding gun owners. When I testify before the Senate tomorrow, I’ll share my sister’s tragic story – who can’t be there to speak for herself – and ask Senators on both sides of the aisle to cosponsor this important bill to save women’s lives.”
“As a champion boxer, I made a career out of fighting off would-be assailants and winning, time after time. But being a professionally trained fighter didn’t prove much use when my abusive husband attempted to murder me with my own gun,” said Christy Martin, former champion boxer who survived being shot in the chest with her own gun by her abusive husband. “When I’m in Washington this week, I’ll call on Congress to take immediate action to save women’s lives – women just like me – and to support Senator Klobuchar’s bill.”
“Our nation’s porous gun laws allow guns to fall into the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers, and Congress can’t sit idly by when there is a real solution – like Senator Klobuchar’s bill – ready for them to support and enact,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Right now, women in the U.S. are 11 times more likely to be killed with guns than in any other developed country. These gaps in our laws leave women at risk—while protecting domestic abusers and stalkers. It’s time we close these loopholes to save lives.”
“Do the math. More women are killed by intimate partners with guns than with all other weapons combined. Getting guns out of the hands of abusers is doable, sensible and saves lives,” said Kim Gandy, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Network to End Domestic Violence. “Let’s get this done.”
In just the first half of 2014, Everytown and Moms Demand Action have 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.
- Louisiana: Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that unanimously passed both chambers of the legislature (HB 753) that will protect victims of domestic violence by prohibiting gun possession by people convicted of, or restrained from, domestic abuse. Rep. Moreno (D) was lead author on the bill, and Governor Jindal (R) signed it into law on May 23.
- Minnesota: Minnesota passed a bill (HF 3238/S 2639) that will do several things to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. First, the bill prohibits those subject to domestic violence restraining orders from buying or possessing guns. Second, the bill closed “the long gun loophole” by prohibiting convicted domestic abusers from buying or possessing all guns—not just handguns. Finally, the bill established a procedure to ensure that convicted stalkers and domestic abusers relinquish their guns once they become prohibited from possessing them. This bill passed by a vote of 111-15 in the House and by a vote of 60-4 in the Senate, and Governor Mark Dayton (D) signed it into law on May 9.
- New Hampshire: Known as Joshua’s Law, SB 318 creates a new domestic violence crime that will help ensure that records of prohibited domestic abusers are entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS). As a result, dangerous domestic abusers will not be able to pass background checks when they try to buy guns at licensed dealers. The bill passed unanimously in the Republican-led Senate and by a vote of 325-3 in the House. Governor Maggie Hasan (D) signed the bill into law on June 19.
- Washington State: After more than 10 years of efforts thwarted by the gun lobby, the Washington legislature unanimously passed a state law (H 1840) prohibiting people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from buying or possessing guns. The new legislation also requires these domestic abusers to relinquish their firearms when they become prohibited from gun possession. Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed this measure into law on March 28.
- Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker signed into law the SAFE (Stopping Abuse Fatalities through Enforcement) Act (AB 464) which establishes a procedure for courts to ensure that domestic abusers who are subject to protective orders relinquish their guns. Introduced by Representative Bies (R), the legislation passed by an overwhelming voice vote in both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Walker (R) on April 16.
- Vermont: State legislators passed legislation (H 735) that establishes a procedure to ensure that domestic abusers subject to restraining orders relinquish their guns. The bill passed both chambers with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin (D) on June 16.