ACTION ALERT: US Gun Deaths and Domestic Violence
October 29, 2017
Dr. Hans Keirstead / Daily Kos & Shannon Watts / Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Commentary: Given the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the number one predictor of whether someone is going to become a mass shooter isn't their race, ethnicity, or religion, it's whether they have a history of domestic violence or abusive behavior toward women. One in three American women will be in an abusive relationship at some point in her life. If her abuser has access to a gun, the chance that she will be murdered increases 500 percent.
The Staggering Connection Between Female Gun Deaths & Domestic Violence
Dr. Hans Keirstead / Daily Kos
(October 23, 2017) -- I'm writing to you about an issue that is very important to me and especially important to talk about now, during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: the staggering connection of gun deaths among women and domestic violence.
Even though the NRA was able to lobby Congress to prohibit federal funding for research on gun violence, places like Harvard's Injury Control Research Center are doing important work on the effects of guns on public safety and have found that the data shows that increased availability of firearms greatly increases women's risk of death -- particularly for women in abusive relationships.
Given the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the number one predictor of whether someone is going to become a mass shooter isn't their race, ethnicity, or religion, it's whether they have a history of domestic violence or abusive behavior toward women.
Indeed, as horrifying as the events were, the majority of mass shootings don't involve a gunman taking aim at a crowd of strangers in public. It's usually a man shooting his wife, ex-wife, or girlfriend and other family, friends, or acquaintances.
In fact, the worst mass shooting in Orange County's history occurred in Seal Beach in 2011, when Michelle Fournier's ex-husband shot and killed her and seven other innocent victims in a salon, wounding another victim in the process.
One in three American women will be in an abusive relationship at some point in her life. If her abuser has access to a gun, the chance that she will be murdered increases 500 percent.
In fact, women who try to protect themselves and their families by leaving an abusive partner frequently face escalations in violence that all too often result in murder. Despite the claims of some that women need guns to protect themselves against abusers, the statistics don’t bear this out. For every instance in which a woman protects herself with a gun against a violent partner, 83 other women are murdered by their domestic partners with a gun.
Given the seemingly unbridgeable distance between gun rights activists and those demanding more gun control, what can we do to tackle this epidemic of gun violence against women? A great deal, really. And what I'm proposing will not infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners, including sportsmen and hunters, and those who responsibly keep weapons for personal protection.
California has already taken the important step of prohibiting those convicted of domestic violence of not just buying new guns, but keeping their old firearms. California law enforcement, unlike police in most of the country, are empowered to remove weapons from those who have demonstrated that they are a danger to their family members and partners.
If I'm elected to Congress, I promise you I will make it a priority to return evidence based policy making to the discussion on gun safety. I will put your safety above dogma and fight for pragmatic, effective solutions, including:
*Restoring federal funding for firearms injury research. I am a scientist. I'm not afraid to go where the evidence and the facts lead. The gun lobby, however, is so terrified that the answer to gun violence may not be more guns for everyone, everywhere, that they have done everything possible to prevent us from studying the causes and effects of gun violence on our society.
Despite their efforts to shut down the research, recent studies have demonstrated the critical link between guns and intimate partner homicide, and have also pointed to the policies we need to implement to protect people.
*Closing the "boyfriend loophole" and the "stalker loophole." Unlike California, most states don’t prevent stalkers or domestic abusers who aren’t married to or living with their victims from owning guns. The lives of battered and abused women and their children depend upon us restoring sanity to this debate and taking guns out of the hands of people already determined to be violent and dangerous.
Given the majority of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners, making sure dangerous domestic abusers and stalkers don't have access to lethal weapons can save countless lives every year.
*Making real efforts to prevent and punish arms trafficking. Even though states with stronger gun laws have lower rates of gun crimes, they cannot prevent all illegal weapons from getting into their communities, or into the hands of criminals. This fact is exacerbated by weak regulations in other states and apathy toward punishing straw purchasers and unscrupulous firearms sellers who sell to people they know can’t pass a background check.
We need to treat straw purchasing -- buying a gun for someone else so they don’t have to go through a background check -- and selling to someone not allowed to purchase a gun, as the serious crimes they are and stop handing out slaps on the wrist as punishment. We need to ensure that gun dealers keep accurate inventories and report lost or stolen firearms immediately and give police the tools and resources they need to fight against the diversion of guns into the black market.
*Closing the private sale loophole: Online and private sales make it all too easy for bad actors to get their hands on guns. States like California that have already closed this loophole have significantly lower rates of gun crimes than states that haven’t. It’s time Congress finally stood up to the gun lobby on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Americans, including 80% of gun owners, who believe in universal background checks.
Congress can move to close these loopholes and can do a whole lot more to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence, but instead, it chooses to do worse than nothing.
Representatives like Dana Rohrabacher, who are so afraid of running afoul of the gun manufacturers’ lobby, refuse to take the most basic steps to protect our families and our communities.
In fact, instead of helping to keep guns out of the hands of violent abusers, Rohrabacher and others are trying to force states like California to honor concealed carry permits from states that will issue a permit to a stalker or a boyfriend convicted of domestic violence. How is that possibly going to keep our community safe or help police protect victims who may be fleeing from their abusers?
I’m not issuing this appeal just to those who already support stronger gun laws, I’m reaching out to responsible gun owners everywhere. You are vital to this fight. We need your voices more than anyone’s. It’s so important for you to stand up, take part, and help craft the solutions that will make our communities safer while respecting your rights.
None of the steps I outlined above would do anything to limit the rights of responsible gun owners. Every single point in my plan is supported by the weight of the best scientific evidence we have available.
Please join me in this campaign so we can put sensible, bipartisan policy solutions over politics.
Dr. Hans Keirstead is a husband, father, scientist, a business leader, and a Democratic Candidate for Congress in California's 48th District. He is one of the world’s leading innovators in stem cell research and medical treatments and has led therapy breakthroughs for late-stage cancers, multiple sclerosis, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, and retinal diseases.
Hans has launched multiple successful medical research companies in Orange County and is currently CEO at AIVITA Biomedical, where he is focusing on developing a cancer treatment that is proving to be the most effective treatment for cancer that has ever reached the final phases of clinical trials.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
The Link between Domestic Abuse and Gun Violence
Shannon Watts / Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
(October 21, 2017) -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I want to tell you about the connection between domestic abuse and gun violence. We know that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.
When domestic abusers kill their families, it's too often because lax gun laws leave women and children vulnerable to armed abusers. That's why we've worked with half of the country's state legislatures to strengthen existing laws or to pass new domestic gun violence laws. But we will never stop fighting to ensure lawmakers pass laws that protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence across the country.
In 2017 alone, we helped to pass laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers in eight states, but the work wasn't easy. We faced opposition from the gun lobby every step of the way, even though these commonsense laws would protect families from gun violence. We're committed to this fight and we need to know that you're with us.
ACTION: Will you take a pledge to stand with domestic violence survivors? Pledge your support and stand with domestic violence survivors.
Thank you for your unwavering dedication. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, available 24/7, for confidential assistance from a trained advocate.
Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.