WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline today announced a new report and toolkit, “Saving Women’s Lives,” to serve as a resource for state and local leaders to adopt best practices that will help protect women from gun violence.
In conjunction with release of the toolkit, ARS Co-Founder Gabrielle Giffords also announced the “#ProtectAllWomen” campaign urging women at state and local levels to work with leaders on the ground and encourage them to use the toolkit and resources to strengthen laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers. The campaign will include targeted digital outreach and leadership training for women around the country.
“Gun violence is a women’s issue. Criminals, stalkers, and abusers with guns are a threat to women,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “We must act to protect women from gun violence.”
“Every day our advocates at The Hotline hear stories of women who are being threatened, hurt or stalked by current or former partners with access to firearms. These women are living in fear for their lives and those of their loved ones. It is our hope that victims, and those who care about their safety, draw on the best practices identified in this toolkit,” said Katie Ray-Jones, president and acting CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The new resource titled “Saving Women’s Lives: Ending Firearms Violence Against Intimate Partners,” provides local leaders – including state courts, prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocates – recommendations on best practices that protect victims of abuse from gun violence. It also highlights the importance of strong partnerships between states and the federal government in improving the effectiveness of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and enforcement of existing federal gun laws.
Among the best practices, policies and laws recommended in the toolkit:
Ways state courts can improve findings in protection orders that meet requirements of federal firearms laws;
Steps for state and local law enforcement to improve their lethality assessment programs when responding to domestic violence incidents;
State prosecutors should adopt protocols for ensuring that information required to conduct a federal firearms background check is in court records and plea agreements; and,
State legislatures can give law enforcement and court officials the tools they need to be most effective.
Guns play a lethal role in domestic violence in the the United States:
American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and 22 percent of deaths caused by domestic abusers are gun-related.
Forty-four percent of women killed by guns are murdered by a current or former partner and each month, an average of 46 women are shot to death by a current or former husband or boyfriend.
The majority of mass shootings in the United States also involve instances of domestic violence.
Access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide upwards of five times more than in instances where there are no weapons.
Last month, Congresswoman Giffords delivered a petition signed by more than 50,000 Americans to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy requesting a hearing on the nexus of gun violence against women and domestic violence. Yesterday, Giffords framed gun violence prevention as a women’s issue in a speech at the #ProtectAllWomen gun violence panel.