Violence Against Women

Gun Control Referendums Received Close Votes on Election Day

On Election Day, Washington, California and Nevada all voted to strengthen gun control measures in the wake of Congress’ unwillingness to improve gun safety.

Voters in California, which already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, voted to outlaw large-capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for those purchasing ammunition, and allow the state to immediately confiscate the firearms of anyone convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor.

This past summer in the case of Voisine v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of preventing gun ownership for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. That case involved two Maine men who unsuccessfully argued that their domestic violence crimes were committed “recklessly” and thus should not lose access to their firearms.

Despite a flood of lobbying money from gun control groups, including $5 million from Everytown for Gun Safety, voters in Maine narrowly shot down the expansion of background checks for private gun sales and for those who acquire firearms through a transfer or loan from a friend.

Nevada just barely passed a measure similar to the one on the ballot in Maine with 50.45 percent of the vote. A spokeswoman for the measure recently told Reuters that 1 in 11 Nevadans who purchased a gun online would not be able to pass a background check.

In Washington, voters approved a measure that will allow judges to issue temporary gun seizures from people who are considered a threat to themselves and others, including domestic abusers.  One in three American adults own a firearm, and the chance of a woman in an abusive household being killed by her partner quintuples when there is a gun in the home. In 2013, nearly 500 women were fatally shot by a husband or partner.

In June, four gun control measures—two concerning background checks and two aimed at preventing gun sales to people suspected of terrorism—failed to pass the 60-vote threshold necessary to move forward in the US Senate, despite the vote taking place just over a week after the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

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