For Immediate Release

September 30, 1997

Feminist Majority Commends Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban's First Year, Calls For Stepped Up Enforcement

Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal joined Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) and other women’s rights and domestic violence leaders at a Tuesday, September 30 news conference in praising the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban on the law’s one year anniversary.

“The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is one of the most significant advances in the drive to end domestic violence. This law has already saved some women’s lives by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. In 1997, over 2,000 gun permits were denied because applicants had previous domestic violence convictions,” said Smeal.

“With this record of success, how can anyone even attempt to argue that the law should be repealed or weakened? Allowing convicted abusers to possess guns invites deadly abuse. Allowing police officers who have been convicted of domestic violence to keep their guns and to remain in a position responsible for intervening in domestic violence disputes creates a public safety crisis of major proportions for women.”

“Rather than eliminating retroactivity from the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, we should focus on how the law can be more aggressively enforced. We know that 2,000 is just the tip of the iceberg.”

“And rather than seeking exemptions for police officers and military personnel who are abusers, we should be concerned with why we are recruiting so many abusers for these positions. One half of all 911 calls are related to domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence should expect a sympathetic officer to respond to 911 calls, not one who has committed domestic violence himself. Police family violence is a horrific problem that threatens the lives of women and children associated with the abusing officer and undercuts legal protection for all domestic violence victims within the officer’s jurisdiction,” Smeal concluded.

The Feminist Majority has worked over the past year to stave off attempts to gut the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban. The Feminist Majority’s sister organization, the Feminist Majority Foundation, sponsors the National Center for Women and Policing, an organization of women police officers committed to improving police response to domestic violence and increasing the representation of women in law enforcement.


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