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NNEDV Welcomes Senate Judiciary Hearing on Role of Guns in Domestic Violence Homicides

July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014 – “This hearing will shine a light on the reality of gun violence – something that survivors of domestic abuse know all too well,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of NNEDV. “Domestic violence deaths are committed at a horrifying rate, with guns used in the majority of these murders.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, from 2002 through 2011, an average of 3,551 women were killed every year in the United States, more than half by firearms. In 2010 and 2011, more than half of all women murdered in the United States were murdered by a current or former intimate partner.

The landmark Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, established in 1996, limited domestic violence abusers’ access to firearms. Today’s hearing will draw attention to loopholes that exist in current federal law. Witnesses include a nationally recognized expert, a local sheriff, and a surviving family member of a domestic violence homicide victim.

“This hearing is an opportunity for the American public to learn about the prevalence of women’s homicides and for Congress to face this issue head-on,” said Paulette Sullivan Moore, Vice President of Public Policy. “Senators Blumenthal and Klobuchar, and their colleagues in the House, have introduced commonsense solutions that would vastly reduce the death toll.”

During NNEDV’s annual Advocacy Day in June 2014, over 100 advocates from across the country called on Congress to hold a hearing on this issue. Today, a number of state domestic violence coalition leaders have come to DC to bear witness to the hearing and to urge their Senators and Representatives to pass relevant legislation.

“The deaths of thousands of women a year at the hands of their partners or ex-partners is a national shame, said Gandy. “But it’s not unsolvable. In fact, there are workable solutions, supported by the majority of Americans, that would make a real difference in reducing these tragic deaths.”

The National Network to End Domestic Violence supports the three Senate bills and their House companions, discussed at the hearing, which fill in gaps in current federal law to protect domestic violence victims from abusers with firearms.

Domestic Violence Gun Homicide Prevention Act of 2014: Sponsored by Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), this bill encourages states to enforce existing laws by removing firearms from domestic abusers. Along with its counterpart, the Domestic Violence Criminal Disarmament Act (H.R. 3566), introduced by Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI4) in 2013, this bill would provide grants to states that match or exceed current federal domestic gun prohibition laws, and enforce gun seizures when responding to domestic violence. This bill addresses one of the most critical elements of domestic violence victim protection: consistent enforcement.

Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act (S. 2483): Sponsored by Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), focuses on prohibiting perpetrators of domestic violence served with emergency orders of protection from owning firearms. Lori Jackson, a mother of two, fled her home in Connecticut and her estranged husband. Although a judge granted her an emergency order of protection, this order did not prevent her abuser from legally owning the gun that ended her life. Because abusers are often deadliest when victims attempt to leave, this bill will provide protection for victims at the most dangerous time.

Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013 (S. 1290): Sponsored by Senator Klobuchar (D-MN), would provide victims of dating violence and stalking with the same legal protection as victims of domestic violence. This bill addresses a tragic reality in the United States, where more domestic violence homicides are committed by dating partners than by spouses, and stalking is highly correlated with women’s homicides. Because dating violence and stalking are so often indicative of future homicide, this legislation will positively impact the lives of numerous victims.

The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (H.R. 4906): Sponsored by Representative Capps (D-CA24), complements S. 2483 and S. 1290, working to protect those with emergency orders of protection and victims of dating violence and stalking. Representative Thompson (D-CA5) has also introduced the Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act of 2014 (H.R. 4783) to address issues of mental illness and gun access.