As the gun debate continues, Congress finally held a hearing over the link between domestic violence and gun-related homicide. Everyone, including gun owners, should naturally support efforts to protect abuse victims, but that sadly has not been the case. Various proposals have been raised attempting to expand the regulations keeping domestic abusers from owning guns, but they have naturally met resistance from gun groups, including the NRA.
Current laws prohibit violent felons and certain people with restraining orders or misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from owning weapons, but these bans do not extend to other potentially violent people. There are no laws in place to keep stalkers, those whose domestic violence convictions apply to attacks against people other than a spouse, or those whose restraining orders are merely temporary rather than permanent from owning all the weapons they please. The proposals blocked by gun groups merely seek to broaden the bans to include these additional classes of potentially dangerous people.
Studies showing the increased risk for women when domestic violence and gun ownership are combined are numerous and terrifying. Nearly half of women murdered by guns are killed by their intimate partner, and women are five times more likely to be killed by their partner when a gun is present in the house. This threat even extends to mass shootings, as 57 percent of these kinds of sprees involve an incident of domestic violence.
The claim that keeping guns out of the hands of abusers is just an attempt to limit gun ownership simply does not hold water. These are people who have already proven themselves to be dangerous. Allowing them to own weapons that can be used to kill their partners (or former partners) is beyond irresponsible.
I have written before about how all gun owners are accountable for the actions of all other gun owners. The case of domestic abusers having firearms is a perfect example of this. As always, this type of legislation would do nothing to limit gun ownership for law-abiding citizens. It would merely keep guns out of the hands of people with a history of violent or threatening behavior against their partner. Responsible gun owners should want this as much as anyone else. Surely they don’t condone this type of violence. They should applaud any attempt to keep dangerous people from owning weapons, if not for their own safety, then for the safety of the 46 women a month who are shot and killed by their intimate partner.
Luckily, there are a few such gun owners who do support this potential legislation:
But not all gun-owners are siding with the NRA to fight these stricter gun controls. “I am a gun owner. I was shot and left for dead by my own gun,” says Christy Martin, a former championship boxer whose ex-husband was sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison for attempting to murder her with a firearm. Martin flew to Washington, DC this week to attend Wednesday’s hearing, at the invitation of Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I consider myself a physically fit, somewhat strong woman, mentally strong, emotionally strong, but it didn’t matter,” she says, noting that her ex-husband had a history of stalking behavior prior to the attack, and that she’d like to “close up some of those loopholes for stalkers.”
And closing those loopholes is exactly what the proposed legislation, including a bill from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), seeks to do. And, it should not be only the victims of these horrible attacks who support it. But, the NRA has called her proposal “a backdoor attempt to limit gun ownership,” and said it, “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions.”
Downplaying the terror of domestic violence and murder at the hands of an intimate partners as merely “emotionally compelling” is heartless. These are people who live in fear and are killed by a person they loved and trusted. They deserve our help and protection, and keeping their partners from owning a weapon that can be used against them is the very least we can do.