Time to block gun violence against women

October 8, 2013

If October is like every other month, 46 women in the United States will be murdered with a gun by an intimate partner.

Public attention was gripped by the most recent mass shooting, at the Navy Yard in Washington, but during Domestic Violence Awareness month, we need to focus on the fact that women face a heightened risk of gun violence.

Women are more than three-and-a-half times as likely to be killed by an intimate partner as men. A gun in a household with a history of domestic violence increases by 20 times the risk that a woman will be killed there, compared to households without guns. Similarly, more than 75 percent of stalking victims are women — and stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten their victims in 1 out of 5 cases. The statistics show: Guns plus a history of domestic violence or stalking equals increased risk of death to women.

Tragically, there are numerous stories that bear this out. Zina Daniel obtained a restraining order against her estranged husband after he made numerous threats against her.  Teri Lee sought police protection and obtained a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend after he broke into her home and threatened her with butcher knives.  Stacey Sutera notified police when an acquaintance began stalking her, and ultimately helped secure a criminal conviction against him. Laura Acevez sought police protection from an abusive ex-boyfriend and told police that he owned guns. These women were all shot and killed by the men who abused them, even after seeking help from the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, there are so many others.

Congress recognized the risks posed by domestic abusers with guns by passing legislation in the 1990s prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors or subject to certain restraining orders from possessing guns. These laws have been effective in preventing some dangerous individuals from obtaining guns: Since November 1998, more than 104,000 gun sales to convicted domestic abusers have been prevented by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, as well as an additional 44,000 sales to abusers subject to restraining orders.

Yet women like Daniel, Lee, Sutera and Acevez are still vulnerable to gun violence.  Why?

Because federal laws have significant loopholes that permit dangerous predators easy access to guns. Women legislators — Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in the Senate and Representatives Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) in the House — have introduced bills to address these issues. Their bills are still in committee and we urge Congress to act quickly to pass this important legislation to better protect women.

There are four significant weaknesses in the current law that leave women vulnerable to gun violence. First, background checks are not required for all gun sales. The current background check system makes it easy for felons and domestic abusers to buy guns with no questions asked from unlicensed sellers at gun shows, online and just about anywhere else. This is how Daniel’s killer was able to buy the gun he used to murder his estranged wife and two others, despite the restraining order against him.

Second, the current gun possession ban on domestic abusers fails to cover dating partners. Federal law protects women victimized by spouses or co-parents, not dating partners. This is why Lee’s abuser was permitted to own the gun he used to kill her despite the restraining order she obtained to protect herself from him.

Third, convicted stalkers can buy guns. Seven states bar people convicted of misdemeanor stalking crimes from possessing guns. But federal law allows these convicted stalkers to buy guns, despite the often increasingly violent nature of their behavior. This is why Sutera’s murderer was able to own a gun even after his conviction for stalking her.

Fourth, law enforcement isn’t doing enough to take guns away from domestic abusers. Too often domestic abusers who are prohibited from gun ownership are not forced to surrender guns they already own. This is why Acevez’s killer was able to keep his guns, even after she obtained a restraining order and informed police that he continued to own guns.

The bottom line is that it is just too easy for men who seek to harm women to buy and possess guns. As fatal gun violence against women continues, Congress must take action to close these loopholes that put all women in danger.


PHOTO: A customer looks over a Glock 17 9mm hand gun at the Guns-R-Us gun shop in Phoenix, Arizona, December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Ralph D. Freso


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I have no reason to think that any of these facts are wrong but the bigger problem was this article point 4 in that law enforcement dropped the ball. Law enforcement does not kick until a crime has been committed, then it’s too late for the victims in these cases. Once this tragedy is done then the court system will plea bargain or try new rehabilitation programs as in Chicago and these guys will be back out on the street with another girl friend. She may at some point tick him off and he will lose his cool and smack her or stab or shoot her. Then you would think our criminal justice system would take some responsibility, but they don’t. Groups take to the easy solution and say take away the guns. Here’s the problem, back ground checks are registrations; if it was like Joe Biden said it was that would be great one phone call from any one, not just a dealer could give the seller a yes or no the person they want to sell the gun to . That data base is up dated though out the day and should be easily doable but its registration and just like everything else the government does its way over the top and appears like its for taking them back and knowing the guns where about at all times. I f I buy a gun I request the seller to send it to a FFL dealer to make sure its not stolen and I do in fact own a legal gun. My son’s sister in law has, a supposedly rehabilitated felon living with her and she has all kinds of guns. This felon has made threats against her dad and my son’s wife. They reported it to the sheriff and they said that they could not act until a crime is committed and his threat is just words against words. He recommended shooting first if the threats are acted upon. All Law enforcement takes this approach. As in most cases involving felons they will get a gun by either their women buying it for them, or stealing it, either way is not a problem for them morally. All the laws made expect law abiding people to follow, Felons are not law abiding as demonstrated.
Women, protect yourself and choose wisely, do a back ground check yourself on your new boyfriend, it may save your own live; that’s you r responsibility to look out for yourself.

Posted by trlrunner | Report as abusive

Same old story about good girls falling in love with bad bad boys. This fascination with a rude determined male could eventually kill. Surprised? No laws would make an A-hole a gentleman. Tell your daughter about this.

Posted by behave | Report as abusive

And, I might suggest the authors review the expanding number of women who have taken responsibility for their personal security by purchasing and learning to use a firearm.

For years women have been indoctrinated to use the legal system and to rely on the law enforcement to protect them from domestic violence. Reality has demonstrated that restraining orders in many situations are ineffective, and that LEO cannot always be available in a timely manner.

Our legal system is incapable from protecting women from any single person that wishes to do them harm. Instead, promote the fact that a woman has choices. Should they be opposed to the use of a firearm for their protection, fine. If they want to rely exclusively on the legal system and LEO, fine. But do not discourage them from owning and using a firearm to protect themselves and their children.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

Why should anyone have to carry a gun to protect themself against another? The US is already a violent enough society; time to deescalate this arms race.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

@boris Unfortunately, there are some really bad people out there who have no respect for themselves, for others, or for the law.

If you are not responsible for your safety, or that of your family, then who is? Abdication is not a solution.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

So she tucks it into her skirt every day when she gets up? The article is about DOMESTIC violence, and your solution is she should carry a gun… what, in the home all day every day as well as night? are you people crazy? you really think that will work?

Talk about a knee jerk reaction and a plan that will fail to boot

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

So sad, that the authors of this article fall into lockstep with the Anti-Gun agenda of MOMS Demand action. The liberal indoctrination and brainwashing of our children in the school system is doing nothing more then making people “Sheeple” and victims just waiting to be harmed. The police have no Duty to protect you, and will most probably be there to just investigate the crime after it has happened.

So a few facts to consider. 1) There are evil people in this world. 2) If somebody wants to harm you, they will use whatever is at their disposal. Knife, bat, gun, etc… 3) You can only count on yourself for your own personal security.

Instead of dumbing down the public, how about empowering the people to protect themselves. Instead of having a “Zero Tolerence” policy n our schools, we should be bringing in and establishing self defense classes as well as firearm safety and training. Or, you could just choose to be a victim instead.

Posted by Mattio41 | Report as abusive

People who are victims of domestic violence should not continue to live with their abusers. It is not the fault of law enforcement or our courts. Get out of there and go to a shelter.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive