Violence Against Women — by RMH

In recent weeks, the United States has seen a revived national debate on gun laws and gun safety. The laws surrounding (the purchase of) guns impact every one of us. I have seen it, as a graduate student in Texas, in “campus carry” laws that means my classmates could carry concealed weapons to class next year, in an open carry demonstration that took place on my street, and, along with the rest of the country, in the mass shootings that have unfortunately become more common and more dangerous [1]. Guns also have a deadly effect on the safety of women in the United States, especially women who have experienced domestic abuse.

I always have to get over a slight mental disconnect, when I criticize the United States’ policy towards women. I really do believe that our country is working towards gender equality and concerned with the safety of all its citizens, including women. As many of the maps on this site show, the United States is better at recognizing and protecting women from violence than many other countries around the world. However, that said – we still have a long, LONG way to go in many areas – including preventing the senseless murders of women by their gun-wielding partners.

When it comes to gun violence, the United States has fallen behind. American women – like me – are eleven times more likely to be killed by guns than women in other developed countries[2]. Recent studies have consistently shown that when women are murdered by men, over half are killed with guns (52 percent in 2010, 53 percent in 2011[3] and in 2013[4]). 94 percent of those women are murdered by a man they know – not a stranger[5] – and the percentage of women killed by guns increases when the murder is committed (as it is over 60 percent of the time[6]) by the woman’s partner[7]. Women who are in abusive relationships are eight times more likely to be murdered by their partner if there is a gun in their home[8]. For women of color, the danger is even greater – black women are two and a half times more likely than white women to be murdered by men, and Asian women and Native American women also face heightened danger[9]. In a study of 25 developed countries, American women made up 84 percent of all female victims murdered with guns[10].

Many say that the remedy for this problem is more guns – that women should carry guns to defend themselves and deter offenders. This is an argument I have heard from my own family members. However, studies have shown that this approach is counterproductive and dangerous. Women who keep guns in their homes are three times more likely to be murdered than those who do not[11].

Some preventative measures do work, however: those aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. For example, in states where background checks are required for handgun sales, women are 38 percent less likely to be murdered by their partners[12]. Currently, only 60 percent of gun sales are required to include background checks. Although 60 percent is nowhere near enough, this requirement has prevented some men convicted of domestic violence from purchasing guns: over the last 17 years, 14 percent of all rejections based on background checks have been on the grounds of domestic violence convictions[13]. Even if they are subject to background checks, people who have been convicted of domestic abuse misdemeanors are not prevented from purchasing a gun unless they are currently living with, married to, or have children with their partner[14]. Furthermore, people who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking are, in many states, still allowed to own guns[15]. On the other hand, people who have been convicted of domestic abuse felonies are – like all felons – not allowed to own guns[16].  Some states do not make all their domestic violence records available to the background check system, keep incomplete records, or do not correctly categorize offenses as domestic violence misdemeanors[17]. Record keeping and sharing has improved over the last few years, but is still inexcusably poor – only Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Mexico have submitted complete records to the federal background check database[18].

The United States has made progress over the past few decades: there has been a considerable decline in the number of women murdered by men[19]. This is good – but not nearly good enough. Our country needs a drastic overhaul of its gun laws to protect the lives of these women and everyone who is murdered each year because of our slavish devotion to the second amendment and the lobbying of our booming arms industry. Since that won’t happen anytime soon, here are a few common-sense ways we can protect women from gun violence: by fully enforcing current laws, requiring states to complete, correctly categorize, and share their criminal records; by passing laws requiring universal background checks (especially on handguns, which are most commonly used to murder women); and by passing laws preventing people who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse or stalking from purchasing guns, whether or not they live with their victims.

by—RMH

Works Cited:

[1]Anjali Shastry. 2015. “Mass public shootings becoming more common, more deadly.” Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/6/mass-shootings-becoming-more-common-deadlier-study/?page=all

[2]Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. 2014. “Campbell Asks U.S. Senate to Close Gun Loopholes, Save Women.” http://nursing.jhu.edu/news-events/news/news/campbell-guns

[3] Ibid.

[4] Violence Policy Center. 2015. “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data.” http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf

[5] Violence Policy Center. 2015. “More than 1,600 Women Murdered by Men in One Year, New Study Finds.” http://www.vpc.org/press/more-than-1600-women-murdered-by-men-in-one-year-new-study-finds/

[6] Ibid.

[7] Futures Without Violence. 2013. “The Facts on Women, Children, and Gun Violence.” http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/Gun%20Fact%20Sheet_FINAL%2003%2003%2013.pdf

[8] Ibid.

[9] Violence Policy Center. 2015. “More than 1,600 Women Murdered by Men in One Year, New Study Finds.” http://www.vpc.org/press/more-than-1600-women-murdered-by-men-in-one-year-new-study-finds/

[10] Violence Policy Center. 2015. “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data.” http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf

[11] Josh Sugarmann. 2014. “For Women, Gun Violence Is Often Linked to Domestic Violence.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-sugarmann/for-women-gun-violence-of_b_5913752.html

[12] Melissa Jeltsen. 2016. “What Obama’s New Move On Guns Does For Domestic Violence Survivors.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-gun-control-domestic-violence_568d5ff7e4b0c8beacf54c1c

[13] Violence Policy Center. 2015. “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data.” http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf

[14] Katie McDonough. 2016. “Talking to Iowa’s well-armed women about purse holsters and protecting yourself in a man’s world.” Fusion. http://fusion.net/story/251949/women-guns-iowa/

[15] Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons. 2014. “Women Under the Gun.” Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/guns-crime/report/2014/06/18/91998/women-under-the-gun/

[16] Violence Policy Center. 2015. “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data.” http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf

[17] Ibid.

[18] Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons. 2014. “Women Under the Gun.” Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/guns-crime/report/2014/06/18/91998/women-under-the-gun/

[19] Josh Sugarmann. 2014. “For Women, Gun Violence Is Often Linked to Domestic Violence.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-sugarmann/for-women-gun-violence-of_b_5913752.html

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Violence Against Women — by RMH

  1. Rainie says:

    The facts and figures included in this post made this horrifying situation alarmingly real. Thank you for providing the data, this will be useful when debating women’s safety in the U.S. which some seem to think is not really an issue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s