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The Link Between Domestic Violence and Gun Violence

Domestic Violence Gun Violence Mass Shootings

December 7, 2017

Mass shootings in San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs, Orlando and others share a tragic common denominator: the shooter had a history domestic violence. We know that domestic violence can escalate when an abuser has access to a gun.

At Safe Horizon, we believe that preventing these horrific and heartbreaking mass shootings requires a multifaceted approach: enacting stricter gun control laws, raising awareness of domestic violence and enforcing existing regulations for people with a history of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence and Gun Violence Statistics: Truth in Numbers

Statistics help illustrate the relationship between gun violence and domestic violence. Research conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization advocating for changes to gun laws, concluded that most mass shootings involve domestic and family violence—between 2009 and 2016, more than half of all mass shootings in the United States targeted a current or former intimate partner or family member.

In addition, research conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety states that:

  • 43% of 2016’s mass shootings involved a male shooter specifically targeting a family member or intimate partner
  • 81% percent of the victims in 2016 shootings were women and children
  • 57% of mass shootings since 2013 involved a gunman targeting family and intimate partners

Federal Laws that Help Restrict Domestic Violence Perpetrators from Accessing Firearms

The 1968 Gun Control Act prohibits anyone convicted of a felony and anyone subject to a domestic violence protective order from possessing a firearm. The Lautenberg Amendment is newer legislation that extends the firearms ban to anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. This bill passed in 1997 with almost unanimous support and represents Congress’s recognition that “anyone who attempts or threatens violence against a loved one has demonstrated that he or she poses an unacceptable risk, and should be prohibited from possessing firearms.”

The Lautenberg Amendment affects law enforcement in three interrelated ways. The Lautenberg Amendment:

  1. Hinders access to firearms to individuals who have demonstrated a capacity for domestic violence.
  2. Assists law enforcement by providing a tool for the removal of firearms from certain severe domestic situations, thus decreasing the possibility of deadly violence.
  3. Serves as a federal prosecution tool in certain situations where alternatives have failed.

How Can We Prevent Mass Shootings?

It’s time not only to strengthen our gun laws, but to also make sure they are enforced as written. Far too many lives have been lost as a result of mass shootings, and each victim leaves behind loved ones who will never be the same. Congress can no longer wait to act. Safe Horizon calls on our federal lawmakers to enact meaningful and common-sense solutions to this epidemic of gun violence now.

In addition, we must also do our part to raise awareness of domestic violence. Read the signs of domestic violence or look up more domestic violence statistics and facts. Together, we can raise awareness of domestic violence and gun violence to ensure both issues are taken more seriously.