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Domestic violence and gun violence are intimately connected and directly related to our porous gun laws. In 18 percent of the mass shootings, the perpetrator had been previously charged with domestic violence.
Closing gaps in federal and state domestic violence laws will save women’s lives. Black et al., The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nov. Other research suggests more than one in four American women will suffer domestic violence in their lifetimes. Koziol-Mc Lain, et al., Risk factors for femicide within physically abuse intimate relationships: results from a multi-state case control study, 93 Amer. Whereas women make up only 13 percent of victims of gun homicide nationwide, they made up 51 percent of victims of mass shootings between 20.
Guns are a prevalent and particularly dangerous component of domestic violence in America. Over the past 20 years, the federal government and many states have enacted laws and policies to reflect this reality, but gaps in the current laws still make it too easy for domestic abuser to access guns. A patchwork of federal and state laws is in place to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous domestic violence offenders.
Prohibitions on Gun Possession by Domestic Abusers and Stalkers Various federal and state laws currently seek to prohibit domestic violence offenders from buying or possessing guns. In 1996, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced an amendment to the federal appropriations bill to extend the prohibition against gun ownership to those convicted of a domestic abuse misdemeanor. 2001) (holding that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the defendant had validly waived his right to counsel prior to pleading guilty to an underlying misdemeanor domestic violence charge). And in 2014, the Court recognized that a misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse that involves physical force against the victim qualifies as an MCDV even if the crime in question did not involve especially “strong” or “violent” force.
Federal law prohibits domestic abusers from buying or possessing guns if they have been convicted of a felony; Under federal law, a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing guns if he or she is convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than one year. Lautenberg explained the need for the amendment by telling his colleagues that, in far too many cases, “the difference between a murdered wife and a battered wife is often the presence of a gun.” Passed as part of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, the Lautenberg Amendment made it a federal crime for anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to “ship, transport, possess or receive” guns or ammunition. Not all domestic violence misdemeanants are federally prohibited under this definition. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia also have state laws prohibiting gun possession by domestic violence misdemeanants.
“His threats terrorize my every waking moment,” she wrote in her petition.
“He said he would kill me if I left him or even contacted the police.” Zina’s fear was justified: two days later her husband exploited a loophole in our nation’s laws and bought a gun from an unlicensed seller on the website Armslist.com, evading a background check. America’s weak gun laws failed Zina, just as they fail countless other American women each year. At the same time, an astonishing share of gun violence in America is driven by domestic violence. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Report, 2011.