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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

 
It's the guns, stupid

by David Atkins

It's not just random mass shooters, accidents and neighborhood turf wars. Guns are also the #1 factor in domestic violence deaths:

According to a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, the risk of homicide against women increases 500 percent when a gun is present in domestic violence situations, and the FBI estimates that in 2010, 64 percent of women murdered with guns were killed by a current or former intimate partner. The Violence Policy Center reports that in 2010, the number of women shot and killed by partners was six times higher than the number killed by strangers using all other weapons combined.

In Texas, the numbers echo national estimates: the Texas Council on Family Violence reports that, in 2011, firearms were used in 64 percent of 102 cases where women were murdered by current or former intimate partners. The FBI also estimates that, in states where a background check is required for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot and killed by abusive partners. Texas is not one of those states.

When it comes to the should-haves and could-haves of domestic violence murders, one “should” appears to be clear: Domestic abusers should not have access to firearms. But abusers can easily sidestep background checks by purchasing from private sellers, or shopping for weapons at a gun show, and efforts to close those loopholes have been thwarted.

Earlier this year, pressure from the national gun lobby overshadowed the overwhelming evidence connecting domestic violence homicides to guns when the U.S. Senate rejected tougher gun laws that would have expanded those background checks and banned some semi-automatic weapons.

Paulette Sullivan Moore with the National Network to End Domestic Violence says that the Second Amendment and tougher gun laws are not mutually exclusive, which makes the Senate’s rejection of the firearms bill that much more heartbreaking.

“The reality is that responsible gun owners also want other gun owners to be responsible,” said Sullivan Moore. Her organization has been speaking with senators who voted to renew the Violence Against Women Act but who are against gun reform, senators who she says are seemingly “unable to make the connection between prior armed violence and violence against women.”
Gun nuts will claim that men who want to kill their partners will use other means if they don't have a gun. But while that might sometimes be true, the lack of comparable domestic violence death rates in states and nations with tougher gun laws puts the lie to that argument. It's also common sense.

It's much easier and faster, emotionally speaking, to whip out a gun in the heat of the moment and pull a trigger. It's horrible to think about, but it's a far different thing to get close to a person and strike them with a sharp or blunt object, usually several times. Many people who will pull the trigger of a gun and kill a spouse or girlfriend will stop short if they would otherwise need to use hand-to-hand physical violence.

The American gun epidemic is also a violence against women epidemic. There are literally tens of thousands of women (and a great many men as well) dead today who would likely be alive if this country had sane gun laws, purely in domestic violence cases alone.

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