As lawmakers return to the statehouse to resume their legislative session, they should consider the safety of women and children in Missouri and address the rise in domestic violence risk since the pandemic began.
Last week, a Kansas City Star report showed domestic violence calls have jumped 22 percent in Kansas City under stay-at-home orders, while the St. Louis County Police saw a 17 percent increase from last year in domestic violence calls in March and the first two weeks of April, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department reported a 43 percent increase in domestic assault cases.
This rise comes as advocates across the state raise concerns about women and families being forced to quarantine with their abusers. Gun sales have also surged in Missouri, and research shows that when a domestic abuser has access to a gun, they are five times more likely to kill their victim.
“Domestic violence calls keep going up, gun sales are on the rise, and we know how lethal guns can make domestic violence,” said Julie Drew, a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action and a gun violence survivor. “As lawmakers return on Monday and get to work on solutions for this pandemic, I hope they keep the women and families quarantined at home with domestic abusers in mind. There are bills at the ready that would help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
In February, Missouri Moms Demand Action held their largest advocacy day ever and one of the largest in the country with over 475 mothers and others, gun-owners and non gun-owners alike advocating for gun sense. Representing all 34 Senate districts, the advocates urged lawmakers to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers through the five bills already introduced— HB 2724, HB 2131, HB 1260, SB 563, and SB 697. Similar legislation passed in Kansas with a 153 to 6 vote— and there is no good reason Missouri’s lawmakers can’t pass a similar bill.
Over 1100 Missourians are shot and killed every year, giving Missouri the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. From 2014 to 2018, 99 women were fatally shot by an intimate partner in Missouri. The rate of gun deaths in Missouri increased 56 percent in the last decade, compared to an 18 percent increase nationwide.
If you have any questions, or would like to speak with volunteers with Missouri Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action or survivors of gun violence, please don’t hesitate to reach out.