Coming Together to Disarm Domestic Violence
This week, the United States received a sobering reminder that gun violence is an unparalleled national epidemic. The tragic massacre in Las Vegas has brought gun violence to the forefront of our political dialogue once again. As legislators, advocates, and constituents rightfully discuss this pressing issue, we must remember that while they are horrific and must be prevented, mass shootings comprise a small percentage of gun deaths in the United States. As we seek solutions to gun violence, we must recommit to addressing the day-to-day gun violence that is overlooked far too often and is often at the core of public acts of violence. Specifically, we must commit to addressing domestic violence perpetrated with guns.
Guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination. More than half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by an intimate partner with a gun, and the chance of being murdered by an abusive partner increases five-fold when there is a gun in the home. Abusers also use guns as a tool to terrorize and control victims in countless ways.
According to the latest research, policies that prohibit abusers from purchasing or possessing guns are effective at reducing intimate partner homicide. But despite this clear intersection, our laws still have far too many gaps that allow abusers to obtain and keep firearms. These loopholes are due in part to the variability in state firearm removal policies.
To shed light on these gaps, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), Prosecutors Against Gun Violence (PAGV), and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility have teamed up to launch a new initiative: Disarm Domestic Violence. This collaborative effort will culminate in a website that allows individuals to research state-specific laws on domestic violence restraining order firearm removals.
The legal avenues available to survivors of domestic violence can change as soon as they step across state lines. While some states have strong laws regarding firearm prohibition and removal, others have nebulous policies — some never even explicitly mention guns in state law.
Given this dramatic variability, exploring options for disarming abusers can be difficult for legal professionals and advocates — and even more difficult for survivors with no legal training. In order to prevent gun-related domestic violence fatalities, survivors, advocates, and those in the judicial system must have a comprehensive understanding of the existing legal nuances and options available to them.
The Disarm Domestic Violence initiative, which will launch in 2018, will demystify these discrepancies by providing a user-friendly, interactive map that allows users to see details about removal in their states. The website will be a one-stop shop for anyone seeking information on state firearm removal and domestic violence laws. By obviating the need for extensive legal research, the website will enable survivors to advocate for themselves more effectively.
Knowledge is empowering. Survivors of domestic violence deserve to know their options. They deserve to have information. They deserve to live without fear of their armed abusers. Through the Disarm Domestic Violence initiative, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, NCADV, the Alliance, and PAGV are determined to provide them with the resources they need and deserve.