Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Domestic abusers are dangerous and should not have guns

Today, weather permitting, I will be putting on my walking shoes to walk in a memorial event for Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs. DAIP is known around the world for its' Duluth Model and the trainings for professionals working with the women and families who abuse and the men who abuse. From the link above, " The Duluth Model holds that public intervention in domestic violence cases should include several key elements. It must protect victims of ongoing abuse (battering), hold perpetrators and intervening practitioners accountable for victim safety, offer offenders an opportunity to change (including punishment if it enhances victim safety) and ensure due process for offenders through the intervention process. The focus of intervention is on stopping the violence, not on fixing or ending interpersonal relationships." 

Kay Marie Sisto was shot to death last May 26th by her husband, Michael Peterson. He shot her 3 times in the back of the head and wrapped his arms around her before shooting himself as well. The walk today is dedicated to her at the request of her family. Kay did not suffer from physical abuse, or at least not that she reported. Often abuse is not physical and noticeable to others outside of the relationship. The Power and Control Wheel found in the link here was developed by the founders of the Duluth Model. It's a useful tool for working with abusers and those who are abused in understanding the causes of the abuse. The wheels show how abuse can mean more than physical. It can be emotional, economic, guilt, use of children, bullying and threats. For some, it can be actual physical abuse or ultimately, death.

Selfish. Violent. Needless. Preventable. Power and Control. The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is trying to leave a relationship or has just left. A gun in the wrong hands. Where did he get the gun? Why did he need to shoot her? Why didn't she seek help? Painful. Ugly. Grief. Loss. Why? Why her?

Kay's sister Kim writes about many things in a blog but most especially about the pain of losing her sister. She mixes her posts with her painful thoughts about her sister, Kay, and recipes and fashion. And she writes about Domestic Abuse with passion, emotion and sometimes anger. This one is particularly powerful. Kim and I have shared thoughts and a few hugs. We are "sisters" because we have lost sisters to a man with a gun intent on snuffing out the life of someone who was trying to get away from the marriage. It's inconvenient to lose power and control. It's too convenient to get a gun and "solve" your problems by shooting the person standing in the way of your power and control.

Some facts:

The Legal Community Against Gun Violence keeps track of the patchwork quilt of state laws dealing with domestic abuse and firearms. It is clear from this study by LCAV that a firearm increases the risk of a woman being shot and killed by a partner/spouse in a domestic dispute. Between 1990 and 2005, firearms were used in more than 2/3 of spouse and ex spouse domestic homicides, according to this study.

In Minnesota last year, ( from the linked article about Kay Marie Sisto), "..15 women, seven children, four family members and two men died in domestic violence in Minnesota."

The state of Oregon has stricter laws about orders for protection and making sure guns cannot be purchased by those who have them. This linked article sums up nicely what the problem is and the potential solution. ""The key to bringing down domestic violence assaults and homicides is prevention," Holton said. "That's precisely what the federal firearms statutes are intended to do." In Maine, Groban said the U.S. Attorney's Office learns of every gun case prosecuted in state court, "so we know whether to prosecute them federally.""

This is an international problem. The International Action Network on Small Arms is concerned not only about the proliferation of small arms to and from countries around the world but about domestic violence. This project of the IANSA is working on the issue world wide. No matter where the abuse takes place, it is about the same thing. Power and control are usually at the root of the problems in abuse situations. Loss of either of these or both can cause anger, depression, and emotional tension within a relationship. The person losing the power and control is often male, as it turns out. And when a gun is used, senseless fatalities occur.

The Illinois legislature has just passed a law that extends the time for those convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun to indefinitely. It has been a period of five years. This is good news for the women of Illinois.


Domestic abuse is an issue that most can agree is a problem but we still have work to do to assure that abusers who have guns don't keep them or those who don't have them can't get them. Laws such as closing the private seller loophole so that a background check would reveal the person to be a prohibited purchaser would be one way to stop known domestic abusers from getting guns from a private seller as well as from a licensed dealer. More laws such as the one passed in Illinois (above) to keep guns away from abusers indefinitely should be passed in more states. More awareness of abuse and the dangers to women in homes where there are guns could save lives (see LCAV study above).  


Because a gun was available, two beautiful women are now dead leaving their families with a hole in their lives. I will walk for Kay and for Barbara and for all the other women whose lives have been lost to domestic violence and for the women who suffered from abuse and are alive today because they got help. Women like Kay and Barbara can no longer walk in their shoes. We walk for them. Common sense tells us that guns and domestic abuse do not mix. Let's work to stop the violence.

10 comments:

  1. The solution to domestic abuse situations is to get the abused out of the house with the abuser. Taking all of the guns out of the household, and leaving the victim, solves nothing at all.

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  2. Joan,

    You support doctors being able to ask patients about firearms and advising them of the dangers of firearms, correct?

    Do you also support doctors asking patients, especially those who show signs of abuse, about firearm ownership and advising them of the protective benefits of firearms?

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  3. Since the medical community has pretty much come out in favor of fewer guns in the home because of the statistics showing that you are at greater risk than if you don't have a gun in the home, the answer is NO. I don't know of any doctors, and I know a lot of them since I have close family members in the profession, who would do that. Their job is to follow best practice in keeping patients safe and healthy. Since virtually all medically related studies show the risks of guns in the home, that is what they practice. Good common sense I would say. I would fire my doctor if he told me to get a gun for self defense and know most of my friends would do the same.

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  4. "Women like Kay and Barbara can no longer walk in their shoes. We walk for them"

    Yes, we will walk for them and we will use our "VOICES" to scream NO MORE!!!!! NO MORE!!!!

    My definition of Abuse: "Anybody who makes one feel small, belittled, demeaned, & useless.

    This is ABUSE! This was Kay's Husband. He waited to the very end to Murder her.

    Thank you for this wonderful Post, Joan.

    Your new sister,

    Kim xxx

    myinnerchick.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Joan,

    Why is it then when the CDC studied the issue, they found no evidence of the effectiveness of any gun control law.

    Not any evidence.

    During 2000--2002, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (the Task Force), an independent nonfederal task force, conducted a systematic review of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of firearms laws in preventing violence, including violent crimes, suicide, and unintentional injury. The following laws were evaluated: bans on specified firearms or ammunition, restrictions on firearm acquisition, waiting periods for firearm acquisition, firearm registration and licensing of firearm owners, "shall issue" concealed weapon carry laws, child access prevention laws, zero tolerance laws for firearms in schools, and combinations of firearms laws. The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes. (Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.) This report briefly describes how the reviews were conducted, summarizes the Task Force findings, and provides information regarding needs for future research.
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm

    If there was evidence, the CDC couldn't find it.

    Isn't it a little hypocritical of you not to support doctors' rights to speak their mind if they are in favor of firearms?

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  6. I don't know why you guys keep sending me this one. I have addressed it before. Here is what the report says and it does not support your comment: " The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes. (Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.) This report briefly describes how the reviews were conducted, summarizes the Task Force findings, and provides information regarding needs for future research."

    So, in other words, no conclusion because of insufficient evidence either way. And it does not mean that laws are ineffective.

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  7. Good on you for speaking out against Domestic Violence.

    Funny that we can both agree on its insidious nature isn't it! Just because I don't agree with your railings against firearm ownership doesn't mean I'm somehow insensitive to other issues.

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  8. An unexpected agreement and compliment. Thanks, Pat.

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  9. "I would fire my doctor if he told me to get a gun for self defense and know most of my friends would do the same."

    Which would, of course, be your right to do. Just as it would be my right to fire a doctor who told me to get rid of my guns. However, I'm curious... would you favor a law forbidding a doctor from discussing the benefits of gun ownership?

    I'm glad to hear you speak out against DV. My mother worked as a child counselor in a DV shelter for battered women and children for many years. She very much enjoyed her work and found it very rewarding.

    Naturally I think the safest a woman can be is with a gun handy, but you are correct in stating that more people should look for the signs of spousal abuse (male or female) and attempt to intervene.

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  10. "Naturally I think the safest a woman can be is with a gun handy."

    For an abused woman to have a gun handy, while she's living in the same house as the abuser, makes no sense at all.

    But the most dangerous time for an abused woman is in the first weeks and months after she leaves. It's then that she needs a gun. Or, perhaps, given her likely mental state, someone with her her needs a gun.

    In my life, so far, I've only had one woman fleeing an abusive ex sleeping on my couch. The woman stayed with us for about a month, finishing out the semester, then moved into an apartment in another metro area, near her daughter.

    The ex never showed up on my doorstep at all. Which was just fine with me.

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