When Guns and Domestic Violence Intersect

Gun violence is a hot topic in the U.S. right now. Many Democrats would like to see that it becomes harder for ordinary citizens to collect guns on the grounds that they do more harm than good. Republican voters on the whole believe that guns are a constitutional right that protect the citizens of this country from potential threats.

Both sides make valid points, but one issue needs to be more fully explored if gun laws are to be changed. When a domestic abuser owns a gun, his victim is five times more likely to be killed.

This link shows why current arguments around the Second Amendment are a feminist issue. In a nation grappling with gun violence, it’s vital to look at the issue from all sides. It’s true that stricter control of guns won’t eliminate domestic violence, but it could reduce the fatalities.

Domestic Violence and Guns Inexplicably Linked

Domestic violence is a plague that’s more common than gun deaths. Unfortunately, because their dispositions tend to be more docile and their bodies weaker than men’s, women are the primary victims.

A telling statistic is that of all the women murdered by men, 93 percent are killed by someone they know. The majority of killers (62 percent) were their intimate partners. Often, the murder is the result of an emotional outburst of domestic violence.

Also telling is the fact that 85 percent of female homicides were executed by people who had no prior felonies. This is important because 20 years ago, Congress recognized the link between domestic violence and guns, so it passed the Lautenberg Amendment, which mandates that anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse would not only be fined and possibly sent to prison, but also would not be allowed to own a gun.

According to research, only 15 percent of people are murdered by convicted felons today. It’s likely the Lautenberg Amendment is part of the reason that percentage is so low.

So this is an argument against gun violence: The percentage of homicides performed by convicted abusers decreased following the removal of guns from their hands. Wouldn’t it follow that the total number of female killings would decrease more fully if the average person was not allowed to own a gun?

Guns Don’t Always Offer Protection

An opposing argument is that if women owned guns, they’d be less likely to be victimized. But the logic is flawed. Gun companies often advertise firearms as a way for women to protect themselves in a dark alley. However, the fact that the majority of females are killed by someone they know suggests this doesn’t hold.

In reality, having a gun readily available could be the primary reason for the woman’s death. One study found that women who have a gun in the home are three times more likely to be killed.
The same goes for the people who are victims of domestic abuse. The majority of women in these situations don’t leave their abuser either because they’re afraid to or because they’re misguided by a false yet overwhelming sense of love and duty.

Either way, this kind of woman is unlikely to turn a gun on her partner, even when she’s being abused. If the woman does pull out a gun, the chances are just as good that her husband or boyfriend will wrest control of it and shoot her.

Will Abolishing Guns Solve the Problem?

It’s hard to say whether prohibiting citizens to own firearms at all would make a significant difference. If a man wants to kill a woman, he may do so using other means; taking the gun away won’t help.

However, in crimes of passion, removing a gun from the scene might save a woman’s life. Ultimately, the best way to solve the problem is to ensure that communities have the necessary resources to help women victims escape domestic violence.

Providing firearm safety classes for women could also help them protect themselves during an abusive episode. Unfortunately, statistics show that guns are more often used to take lives than to save them.

No matter what your beliefs are, it’s worthwhile knowing all the facts and to consider them carefully before presuming gun ownership is your constitutional right and purchasing a gun for self-protection.

Melissa Thompson

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.