By Heather, a Hotline advocate
All of us at The Hotline were filled with a familiar mixture of heartbreak and outrage when we heard the tragic news of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School–the 18th school shooting of 2018. As the story unfolded in the coming days, it wasn’t shocking to us that the man who killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida was allegedly abusive to his past girlfriend. No other marker is as widely shared among men who carry out these kinds of atrocities as a history of violence towards their intimate partners.
Here at The Hotline, every time a mass shooting occurs, our advocates hear from survivors of abuse who are concerned that their boyfriends or husbands are capable of such large-scale violence; because in 98% of mass shootings the perpetrators are men. While we are able to encourage them to take steps such as reaching out to law enforcement and safety planning around having guns in their homes, the reality is that as long as an abuser has access to a firearm, they pose a very serious threat to survivors, their loved ones, and the lives of others in their communities. Regardless of your beliefs on guns, we can all agree that nobody deserves to live in fear of the horror their partner might cause out of a need for power and control, and everyone deserves to feel safe.
If you or someone you know is in a relationship that feels unsafe, especially if the abusive person has access to firearms, please call or chat with us whenever it’s safe to do so. We’re here 24/7/365. Our advocates can help you find local resources like shelters, counseling and legal help, and work with you to make a plan to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible.
Wondering what you can do to create positive change around this issue?
- Register to vote and show up on election day
- Sign our petition to Support the Fix NICS 2017 Act to Keep Firearms Out of the Hands of Domestic Violence Perpetrators, which may be scheduled for a vote as early as this week
- Contact your elected officials in support of other policy solutions The Hotline advocates for regarding firearms, such as:
- For the definition of intimate partner violence to be expanded to include dating partners. Right now, current and former dating partners aren’t included.
- For the crime of stalking to be added to the list of prohibitors that would prevent an abuser from having access to guns.
- For guns to be temporarily removed when an ex parte order is issued. We know that one of the most dangerous times for a survivor is when they first leave. In cases where firearms are used as a threat, we know that the risk of lethality increases exponentially–by 500%.
- Donate to The Hotline to help us continue supporting survivors and advocating for policy solutions on Capitol Hill
- Support students everywhere planning to walk out of class on March 14th and April 20th until Congress takes real action to keep students safer from guns
Whether you are a victim/survivor or a concerned family or friend, we are here for you. Call or chat with us 24/7/365. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat by selecting the Chat Now button right here on our website. Chat en español 12-6 p.m. Hora Central.