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The Hotline Supports President Obama’s Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

Firearms and domestic violence have always been a deadly combination. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500%. In a survey The Hotline conducted in 2014, we found that of the participants whose partners had access to guns, 22% said that their partner had used a firearm to threaten them, their children or other family members, and 67% believed their partner was capable of killing them.

Our CEO Katie Ray-Jones and other leaders from domestic violence and sexual assault organizations are standing with President Obama as he takes executive action to address gun violence while still protecting Second Amendment rights. Earlier today, President Obama made remarks at the White House and discussed new measures that will:

Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco. Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making it clear that anyone in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks. They will finalize a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy weapons and other items through a trust, corporation or other legal entity. The FBI is also making improvements to the background check system to make it more effective, including processing background checks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has highlighted the importance of receiving criminal history records and information on persons disqualified due to mental illness and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.

Make our communities safer from gun violence. The President’s FY 2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws. ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating funds and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. ATF is also finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit. Additionally, the Attorney General issued a memo encouraging every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.

Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system. The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care. The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.

Shape the future of gun safety technology. The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology and to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basic while exploring potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.

We support these measures to increase gun safety and keep firearms out of the wrong hands, including those who have been convicted of domestic violence. While there is still much work to do, we believe that these new measures take tremendous strides toward increasing the safety of our communities.

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Capps Reintroduces Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking

As we approach Mother’s Day, Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) announced this week that she has reintroduced legislation to strengthen protections for women everywhere who are victims of domestic violence and stalking by closing loopholes that allow their abusers and stalkers access to guns.

Currently, more than three times as many women are murdered with guns used by their intimate partners than are murdered by strangers using a gun, knife, or any other weapon. Furthermore, dating partners were responsible for 35 percent of intimate partner homicides committed between 1976 and 2005, and the share of intimate partner homicides committed annually by current dating partners has been on the rise.

The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (H.R. 2216) would address these disturbing figures by closing several loopholes that currently exist in federal protections against gun violence for those who are victims of domestic violence or stalking. “We applaud the reintroduction of the Protecting Domestic Violence and Staking Victims Act,” said Ron LeGrand Vice President of Public Policy for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “While federal law prohibits some perpetrators from keeping their firearms, dangerous loopholes remain for dating partners, stalkers, and abusers served with emergency temporary protective orders. Representative Capps’s bill closes these dangerous loopholes and will save countless lives when it is enacted.”

“In 2014, The Hotline conducted a survey where nearly 16 percent of the participants said their partners had access to guns, and a startling 67 percent said they believed their partner was capable of killing them,” said Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “For those individuals, it is critical that we continue to work together to strengthen the law to protect survivors from firearm violence at the point when they first seek help.”

The bill has 18 original co-sponsors in Congress. It is supported by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Center for Victims of Crime, Futures Without Violence, National Latin@ Network and Casa de Esperanza.

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Hotline President Katie Ray-Jones Testifies in Washington

Katie-in-DCToday the hotline’s president and acting CEO, Katie Ray-Jones, testified in front of the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, DC. In her testimony, she asked for full funding of domestic violence programs in order to fill crucial needs for victims across the nation. We wanted to share a few key points of her submitted testimony here on the hotline blog:

  • Every day, [the hotline’s] highly trained advocates answer nearly 700 calls, texts or chats from those affected by domestic and dating violence. We know that many victims are one call, text or chat away from serious, if not deadly, violence.
  • Ninety-five percent of those contacting us disclosed verbal and emotional abuse, while 70 percent reported physical abuse.
  • Over 20,000 victims disclosed instances of economic abuse, in which their partner forcibly took control or manipulated their finances in order to wield power over them.
  • Over 5,000 victims disclosed instances of child abuse.
  • Nearly 5,000 victims were struggling with issues related to immigration.
  • The downtrend in the economy has impacted both victims and the local programs that serve them. A third of the victim callers surveyed had experienced a change in their financial situation in the previous year; 98% of those experienced an intensification of abuse during that same period.
  • The current economic climate has created a severe budget crisis for programs that provide safety and support for victims across the country. A 2013 survey of rape crisis centers by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence found that over one-third of programs have a waiting list for services such as counseling and support groups, while over half had to lay off staff.
  • Victims of domestic violence have fewer places to turn, also. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s 2013 Domestic Violence Counts annual census, in just one day last year, while more than 66,000 victims of domestic violence received services, over 9,640 requests for services went unmet, due to a lack of funding and resources.
  • We work in partnership with local, state, territorial and tribal programs. If any of us closes or reduces services because of funding shortfalls, everyone is impacted.
  • We ask today for increased funding for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act programs.

You can view her full testimony in front of the subcommittee below: