Washington, D.C. – Five women are murdered with guns every day in the United States, most often by their intimate partners. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a landmark hearing on the intersection of gun violence and domestic violence, titled “VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence.” The Center for American Progress and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have released fact sheets for 27 states providing detailed information about the scope of fatal domestic violence and the large role access to guns plays in that violence in each state.
Two of the five witnesses scheduled to attend today’s hearing are from Wisconsin. Elvin Daniel lost his sister, Zina, in 2012 when her estranged husband shot and killed her and two others at the spa where she worked in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Sheriff Christopher Schmaling from Racine County has been a leader in efforts to ensure that domestic abusers who are prohibited from owning guns are required to surrender any guns in their possession.
Domestic violence fatalities are prevalent in Wisconsin, and they are frequently a result of gun crime: According to the FBI, 40.3 percent of women murdered by an intimate partner in Wisconsin from 2003 to 2012 were killed with a gun. Although a new state law bars gun possession for those with a domestic violence conviction or who are subject to a protection order, Wisconsin still does not have adequate protections to ensure domestic abusers are not able to get their hands on guns, including comprehensive background checks for all gun sales.
“Women, particularly victims of domestic violence and stalking, are at an unacceptable risk of fatal gun violence. As today’s Senate hearing makes clear, this needless gun violence can and must be stopped, and the gaps in our system to protect victims of domestic violence must be closed,” said Jeri Bonavia, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE). “Wisconsin is already leading the way; our state just passed a law that will close some of these gaps, but Congress still needs to act and there is still work left to be done in Wisconsin to protect all women from this tragic risk.”
The 27 fact sheets describe the intersection of gun violence and domestic violence in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“More often than not, fatal domestic abuse involves a gun,” said Arkadi Gerney, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “These deeply intertwined challenges are made all the more dangerous by lax federal and state laws that allow dangerous abusers and stalkers to have easy access to guns. Today’s hearing is a milestone in the fight to improve protections to ensure that all women are kept safe from domestic abusers and stalkers who should never be able to get their hands on a firearm.”
“When it’s five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her abuser when he owns a gun, we know that guns make a domestic violence situation deadly,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “As a nation, we are failing to protect women from domestic abusers and stalkers by not closing these dangerous loopholes in our federal and state laws. The American public and legislators nationwide need to understand the facts on the lethal combination of guns and domestic abuse, and support these commonsense solutions to save women’s lives.”
Last month, CAP released a first of its kind report analyzing the connection between gun violence and domestic and intimate partner violence and the failure of states and the federal government to take steps to curb firearm assaults within the existing legal framework.