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.