Domestic violence survivors, advocates, and members of Congress will convene today in Washington, DC to mark the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to urge passage of federal gun reform laws to protect domestic violence victims. They are calling especially for background checks for all gun sales.
For many victims of domestic violence, whether their abusive partner has a gun or not is a question of life or death. There is a five-fold increase in the risk of women being murdered by an intimate partner when that partner owns a firearm [see PDF]. In states that require background checks for all sales of handguns, 38 percent fewer women are murdered by intimate partners.
Even more women could be protected if loopholes in background check laws were closed. Abusers can easily avoid background checks by buying guns from unlicensed private sellers at gun shows or online. Efforts to close those loopholes have been unsuccessful. In April, the national gun lobby defeated bipartisan legislation that would have expanded background checks.
The Supreme Court will soon consider the scope of a federal law that bans people who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun.
Media Resources: PR Newswire 10/28/13; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; The Hill 10/14/13; Feminist Newswire 10/3/13