To the editor:
I have been a victim advocate and preventionist for over 30 years, working with victims and survivors of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, child sexual assault, and stalking. In that time, I have also worked with surviving family members of those who were murdered by their partners. In every case, the family members were not prepared for the aftermath, and in every case those murders were preventable.
In addition to this, nearly every mass murder in recent history – and there have been all too many – was preceded by acts of domestic violence by the murderer.
This is why I simply cannot understand why Del. John McGuire opposed HB 1992, a bill proposed in the recent General Assembly session, which prohibited a person convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm.
The presence of a gun in a home, regardless of who owns it, makes it five times more likely that a victim of domestic violence will be killed by it, according to the Violence Policy Center. Four and a half million women have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. Sixty percent of intimate partner homicide victims are murdered with firearms. We also know that domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking offenders account for 54 percent of all mass shootings.
You do the math. If we make it much harder for offenders to get their hands on guns (yes, some will resort to illegal means to get one, but far fewer will make such an effort), then fewer people will die. It doesn’t matter if a victim has access to a weapon. Nearly always it is used against them, not by them for self-protection.
Why is this so hard for McGuire to understand? This law would not prevent responsible gun owners and hunters who do not use violence against human beings from owning guns. It is not a violation of the Second Amendment. This law keeps us all safer. It is intended to remove firearms from potentially lethal situations and give law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts tools to protect victims, their families and the community at large.
McGuire would never say publicly that he is against victims’ rights. But he is. He is against the right of victims to be safe from gun-toting abusers.
Claire N Kaplan, PhD