Giffords Oregon Coalition Members Testify in Support of Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

Bill Would Prohibit Abusers & Stalkers from Getting Guns   

February 7, 2018 — Today, during a Oregon House Judiciary Committee hearing, members of the Giffords Oregon Coalition testified in support of a bill (HB 4145) to protect victims of domestic violence in the state by prohibiting abusers and stalkers from getting guns. The legislation would expand prohibitions on domestic abusers possessing firearms to include dating partners and stalkers.

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix,” said Robin Lloyd, Giffords Government Affairs Director. “We know that dating partners commit nearly half of all intimate partner homicides, and we know that stalking is a strong predictor of future violence. Yet, we’ve not done enough to put in place protections to prevent this violence from occurring. This legislation will close loopholes in state law, better protecting victims of domestic violence. I applaud Governor Kate Brown and Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson for their commitment to this critical issue, and I urge all members of the Oregon House of Representatives to pass this life-saving bill.”

Member of Giffords Oregon Coalition shared their support:

“The link between domestic violence and firearms has horrific consequences,” said Vanessa Timmons, Executive Director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, and Advisory Committee Member of the Giffords Oregon Coalition. “A woman is five times more likely to be killed by her abuser if he has access to a gun.  And here in Oregon, dangerous loopholes in our laws allow convicted stalkers and dangerous dating partners to possess firearms. That’s unacceptable. I applaud the leaders in Salem who recognize that we need to do more to protect victims of domestic violence from their stalkers and abusers. That’s exactly what this bill will do and I urge everyone to support this important piece of legislation.”

“Gun violence takes many forms, but we know that domestic violence and firearms is especially deadly,” said Jim Scott, M.D., Past President of the National Physicians Alliance, and Advisory Committee Member of the Giffords Oregon Coalition. “In order to address violence in our communities and in our homes, we need to approach the problem like any other public health issue, and ensure that domestic abusers do not have access to firearms. This legislation is an important piece of what it will take to create safer communities.”

“Allowing known domestic abusers to have firearms just because they are not married to their victim or choose not to live together is dangerous and short sighted,” saidTom O’Connor, Founding Board Member of Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership, and Advisory Committee Member of the Giffords Oregon Coalition. “Owning a firearm is a tremendous responsibility, and if someone is using it to threaten or harass someone, they can no longer be considered a responsible gun owner. Whether you own a gun or not, I hope we can all agree to support this legislation that will save lives.”

Background on Giffords Efforts to Strengthen Oregon Laws to Keep Guns out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

Federal law prohibits abusers who have been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and abusers subject to certain domestic violence protective orders from purchasing or possessing guns. However, significant gaps in our laws exist. For example, the “boyfriend loophole” refers to the fact that dating partners do not qualify as domestic abusers with regards to federal firearm prohibitions unless the partners have cohabitated as spouses or have a child in common.

In 2015, Giffords and members of the Giffords Oregon Coalition, made up of gun owners, veterans, educators, law enforcement officials and community advocates, were instrumental in helping to pass critical legislation that closed a loophole in Oregon law that allowed domestic violence misdemeanants to legally possess firearms. Specifically, it now prohibits individuals convicted of qualifying misdemeanors from possessing firearms or ammunition if, at the time of the offense, the defendant was a family member of the victim.

But current law in Oregon doesn’t cover dating partners or stalkers when it comes to possessing firearms. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania reviewed more than 31,000 Philadelphia police reports and found that “82.1 percent of intimate partner violence incidents included current or former dating partners….less than 15 percent involved current spouses, and just 3.5 percent involved ex-spouses.”

Background On The Nexus Of Domestic Violence, Dating Partner Abuse, Stalking And Access To Firearms

  • Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. [National Domestic Violence Hotline]

  • Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm. [American Journal of Public Health]

  • Domestic violence assaults involving a gun are twelve times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force. [Saltzman, Jun. 1992]

  • In 2011, over half of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners or family members. [U.S. Department of Justice]

  • Sixty-six percent of female stalking victims were stalked by a current or former intimate partner. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, Jan. 2009]

  • One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that 76 percent of women murdered and 85 percent who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. [McFarlane, Nov. 1999]

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