The Senate Judiciary Committee last week held its first-ever hearing on the ties between gun policy and domestic violence, deemed an important step in efforts to protect women.
Members of a witness panel discussed possible measures that would close the loopholes in current federal law, including the use of temporary restraining orders to prevent convicted stalkers and perpetrators of domestic violence from purchasing firearms. They mentioned possible next steps in passing additional legislation in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to protect women from gun violence. A new bill focused on the issue was proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota.
The panel included Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing; Dr. Joyce Lee Malcolm, Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University School of Law; Christopher Schmaling, Sheriff of Racine County, Wisconsin; Hon. Seamus McCaffery, Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and Elvin Daniel, from McHenry, Illinois
On October, 12, 2012, Elvin Daniel received a call no one should have to receive. His sister, Zina had been shot and killed by her abusive ex-husband while she was at work. Two other women were also murdered, and four more were injured in this violent incident. Although federal law prohibited Zina’s husband from legally purchasing a gun, he found an unlicensed seller online, and for $500 was able to buy the handgun he used to kill three people.
Download a copy of Elvin Daniel’s full testimony here
Sheriff Christopher Schmaling of Racine, WI has spent 19 years in law enforcement. He speaks of experiences of working domestic violence incidents that have opened his eyes to the reality of the role gun violence plays in abusive relationships and the “heightened risk” such calls pose to his officers.
Download a copy of Chris Schmaling’s full testimony here
On July 30, Elvin and Sheriff Schmaling, who both identify themselves as conservative Republicans and strong supporters of the Second Amendment, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of S.1290 which would close loopholes in current federal laws. Their passionate and personal testimonies, supported by the statistical data provided by Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, eloquently spoke to the need for common sense laws that will provide protection to victims of domestic violence and stalking.
You can watch the full Judiciary Hearing here: VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence
America’s porous gun laws put women’s lives at risk. In fact, this country is the most dangerous country in the developed world for women when it comes to gun violence. While federal law prohibits convicted domestic abusers and abusers subject to domestic violence restraining orders from owning guns, gaps in federal law still make it too easy for dangerous abusers to access guns.
Let’s look at the numbers, nationally. Every month, an average of 48 American women are shot to death by a current or former husband or boyfriend. American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the woman will be killed.
Let’s look at the numbers, locally. 61 women were murdered by males in South Carolina in 2011, according to the Violence Policy Center. These numbers make South Carolina 1st in the United States for violence against women. For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 57 percent of female victims were shot and killed by guns. For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93 percent of female victims were murdered by someone they knew.
SCCADVASA’s Executive Director, Sara Barber, and Director of Prevention and Education, Rebecca Williams-Agee represented SCCADVASA and the state of South Carolina at the hearings and visits to various congress member’s offices.
Coalition staff and survivors gather before the hearing
Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell before the hearing
Elvin Daniels with a photo of his sister Zina before the hearing