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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Time to "Protect All Women" from domestic abuse

From Center for American Progress
October is Domestic Abuse Awareness month. In spite of the many efforts to prevent domestic abuse, it is endemic in our world and in our country. Yesterday, Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) , located in Duluth, received a very prestigious award. From the article:
"The World Future Council, an international policy-driven organization, announced the Duluth Model as the “gold star” winner of the Future Policy Award for 2014. The model was selected from among 25 initiatives, laws and policies from around the world that were previously named as finalists.
“We just love that it’s a policy that’s being awarded — not just people,” said Melissa Scaia, executive director of the nonprofit Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs. “There are people who created it and now people who are moving it forward.” (...) 
The policy was selected for its “coordinated community response,” World Future Council officials said.
Karin Heisecke, the organization’s senior project manager for ending violence against women and girls, said many national and local jurisdictions around the world have implemented domestic abuse laws and policies, but rarely do they translate well from paper to practice.
“The Duluth Model is exemplary in that it really addresses what other laws and governments have not achieved,” Heisecke told the News Tribune in a telephone interview from Geneva. “It’s important to have a policy on paper, but you need to get all of those stakeholders — all the people involved in the implementation — to work together for it to be successful.”"
Domestic abuse needs a community and a community response in order to protect women ( it is mostly women affected) from the abuse inflicted upon them by the men and/or partners in their lives. The comment that really struck me from the press conference I attended yesterday was from Minnesota Representative Mary Murphy:
“It’s kind of bittersweet that we’re winning an international award for the work that’s been going on for so long, and yet we have no less need for the help that we have to give to the people that come for our service,” she said.
Indeed. We have "no less need for the help" for this international problem. As we know, women and children all over the world are abused in many ways. It is a reflection of the power and control used by the abusers to keep the abused alone and afraid. That is why we need a community response and a coordinated community response as the Duluth model represents.

I sit on the Board of DAIP and I'm proud of the work of the organization. Last week I attended a lunch for the Safe Haven Shelter for battered women in Duluth. A woman who had used the shelter services spoke passionately and tearfully about the abuse she had suffered and the help she received from the shelter. This woman is a professional in the community as is her now ex-husband. Domestic abuse knows no boundaries. It can, and does, happen to any family.

Way too often the abuse leads to a tragic end. The Violence Policy Center has released its' annual report about the affects of domestic abuse. From the report:
The Violence Policy Center has published When Men Murder Women annually for 17 years. During that period, nationwide the rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has dropped 26 percent — from 1.57 per 100,000 in 1996 to 1.16 per 100,000 in 2012.
However, the rate of women killed by men in the United States remains unacceptably high. A 2002 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that the United States accounted for 84 percent of all female firearm homicides among 25 high-income countries, while representing only 32 percent of the female population.
This information from the report concerns the use of firearms in domestic deaths:
Firearms — especially handguns — were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in 2012. Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 52 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 69 percent were killed with handguns.
The overwhelming majority of these homicides were not related to any other felony crime, such as rape or robbery. Nationwide, for homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 85 percent of the homicides were not related to the commission of another felony. Most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument between the victim and the offender.
We know this information and have known this for years. And yet, we still allow domestic abusers to purchase firearms with no background checks because they can buy from private sellers at gun shows and on the Internet. This is unacceptable. If we truly care about saving lives, we need to pass measures to keep domestic abusers from buying guns and also to make sure they have guns removed if they are abusers. There are some people who should not guns.

In June I attended a conference sponsored by the Center for American Progress about the topic of domestic abuse. I wrote a post about it then. I have written often on my blog about domestic abuse and shootings. One of my posts is here.  This issue is near and dear to my heart since my sister was shot by her estranged husband in a domestic shooting as she was trying to get out of her marriage. It's why I do what I do. And we know why some survivors of gun violence do what they do. Former Representative Gabby Giffords is now traveling the country to urge the passage of a bill with her organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions. You can sign a petition on her website urging Congress to take action to protect women. A bill has been introduced to get guns away from stalkers. We know that women who are stalked by their abusers too often end up being injured or even killed by their stalkers. Women are threatened every day with guns and by stalkers who have guns. Making sure these abusers don't access guns will save lives.

And the Center for American Progress has updated information about domestic violence:
Five women are murdered with a gun in the United States every day, most often by an intimate partner. From 2001 to 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in this country by an intimate partner using a gun—more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. A key factor in reducing murders of women is, therefore, preventing dangerous domestic abusers from having easy access to guns.
The Center for American Progress has also formed a new website called Protect All Women. We need to disseminate this important information about the risks for women in America- especially when their partner/spouse/abuser have a gun. This website is a great advocacy site for those who are interested in the safety of women all over our country. Check it out for how your own state is doing to protect women from abuse and the tragic deaths that sometimes come with the abuse.

This is stunning information. What are we going to do about it? If the corporate gun lobby cared more about saving lives than making profits, we could put our heads together and do the right thing that makes common sense. Women are killed at an alarming rate in our country. We have a lot of work to do to change that and prevent the violence that is devastating to far too many families. Every day I read about another domestic shooting. This is not happening in other developed countries not at war. It's way past time to do something about this American tragedy. We are better than this. Let's get to work.

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