by Marcia Rabinoff
With recent news, it’s pretty hard to ignore the spike in gun violence that is occuring in the United States. In back-to-back shootings on August 3rd and 4th, a mere 13 hours apart, 84 people were shot and 31 people were killed in El Paso and Dayton. Both travesties are considered domestic terrorism. Between August 4th and September 4th, an additional 41 people died in mass shootings.
After the August shootings, an instant and heated debate over gun control seemed to occupy the news, with growing tensions and disagreements from the Democratic and Republican sides. Many senators and gun control advocates began pressuring and pleading Mitch McConnell to bring gun legislation to the Senate floor. But aside from the politics of it, how does gun violence and ownership really affect the American public? And what about America’s women? Well, in one way, it does so disproportionately.
According to research found by Everytown for Gun Safety, women in the United States are 25 times more likely to be killed by guns compared to women in other high-income countries. Moreover, a lot of this violence is driven by domestic violence. 54% of mass shootings from 2009 to 2017 occured when a perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member. Today, an overwhelming amount of women report being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. Research shows that women who are threatened with a gun show severe psychological symptoms of PTSD. Having a gun in the household significantly increases the risk of death for women compared to those whose abusive partners do not have a gun in the household. Furthermore, domestic violence with guns can go beyond the intimate partner scale, and also affects others-- especially children. From 2009 to 2017, 86 percent of child victims of mass shootings died in incidents that were tied to domestic violence.
So, in the end, what do all these numbers mean? They show that domestic abusers have too much access to guns. However, there are ways to prevent dangerous people from getting their hands on guns. As of now, gun control laws restrict abusers who have been married to, lived with, or have a child with the abused partner. However, this leaves a dangerous loophold for abusers in other dating situations. Domestic abuse can apply in all different kinds of dating situations, and it’s time for the law to reflect that. Additionally, there is currently no law that requires these abusers to give up their firearms once they are convicted of abuse. A surrender law would be a small preventative measure that could save hundreds of lives.
The prevalence of gun violence is not new in the United States. It’s been an ongoing issue for years and years. It’s time to start writing, passing, and putting into effect laws that could save lives of potential gun violence victims, rather than waiting for more to occur. If you want to take action personally, call your senators, write them letters or leave them messages. Show them the urgency of this issue. Attend local pro-gun control meetings. Tell your friends. Tell your family. The time for this is now.