This post was contributed by our VP of Policy, Rob Valente
Firearms and domestic violence are a deadly combination. Last year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline conducted a survey addressing the experiences of survivors of domestic and dating violence around firearms violence. Of those who participated in the voluntary survey:
- 22% said their partners had threatened to use a firearm to hurt the victim, their children, other family members or friends, household pets, or to commit suicide.
- 10% said their partner had fired a gun during an argument.
- 52% said they would feel safer if law enforcement took their partner’s/ex’s/spouse’s firearms.
- 67% said they believed their partner was capable of killing them.
Homes with guns have a three-fold increased homicide risk as compared to homes without guns. This risk increases to eight-fold when the perpetrator is an intimate partner or relative of the victim. When previous incidents of domestic violence exist, the risk of homicide is 20 times greater.[i]
In light of these sobering statistics, The Hotline would like to thank U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and actress and comedian Amy Schumer for their efforts to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country today. Senator Schumer and Ms. Schumer rightly point to the gaps in our background check system that allow persons – including adjudicated domestic violence abusers – to purchase or gain possession of dangerous firearms. A strong background check system is key to reducing firearms violence. Women are 46% less likely to be shot to death by former or current intimate partners in states that require background checks before firearms purchases.[ii]
Senator Schumer and Ms. Schumer proposed three important steps that Congress should undertake to respond to the dangers of lethal firearms violence:
- Incentivize state efforts to get all necessary records into the federal background check system and penalize states that fail to submit all appropriate records
- Fully fund mental health and substance abuse programs in the federal budget
- Have the U.S. Department of Justice study all states’ standards for involuntary commitment and identify best practices.
We commend them for speaking out so firmly in support of reasonable efforts to ensure that gun violence does not threaten the safety of our families, friends and communities.
[i] Kellermann AL, Rivara FP, Rushforth NB, et al. Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. New England Journal of Medicine. 1993;329(15):1084-1091
[ii] State Background Check Requirements and Rates of Domestic Violence Homicide, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, New York, NY 2015, http://everytown.org/documents/2015/01/dv-background-checks-fact-sheet.pdf.