Domestic Abusers Disarmed: A Step in the Right Direction

In the wake of the Parkland Florida shooting, thousands of young people nationwide stood up and made their voices heard on the issue of gun control. Although this has been met with much silence and resistance from the NRA, Republican leaders, and the Trump Administration, there are beacons of hope in this dark landscape. One such positive development is a new bill passed in New York State as part of Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda (which contains initiatives pertaining to health, safety, and workplace issues that impact women) that would ban those convicted of domestic violence from buying or owning guns of any kind. Although previous legislation in the state mandated that domestic abusers turn over their handguns, no such mandate was made for other types of firearms. The new bill closes this loophole. Additionally, the bill expands the list of offenses that would make those convicted eligible for required gun surrender. The new list would include some— not all— assault and battery charges.[1] This is certainly a step forward towards common sense gun legislation that is so desperately needed in an America where gun violence taints the lives of every civilian in some way.

It is reasonable to think that laws like these, if implemented nationwide, could put a significant dent in the gun violence epidemic in the United States. First, it could potentially decrease the risk of women in abusive relationships dying from gun violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the risk of homicide in domestic violence situations increases by 500 percent when guns are present in the home. Additionally, according to FBI and state crime data, a woman in the United States is shot and killed by her current or previous partner every sixteen hours.[2] These facts alone are already tragic. No woman should ever have to live in fear for her life because her abuser is able to freely obtain a lethal weapon. What makes this even more terrifying is the link between domestic violence and mass shootings. 54 percent of mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2016 were committed by individuals who had a history of domestic violence.[3]

The issue of gun violence and its links to domestic abuse are a perfect illustration of Hillary Clinton’s famous assertion that women’s rights are human rights. We cannot continue on as a society that values the lives and rights of half of the population less than the other half. It is not just morally wrong and blatantly unequal, it also leads to a poisoning of our society that negatively impacts everyone in it. The new legislation in this State is a step forward, certainly, but it also exposes just how much we have left to fight for in the pursuit of a world with true equality and without the plague of gun violence.

[1]Vagianos, A. (2018, April 03). Convicted Domestic Abusers Will No Longer Be Able To Own Guns In New York State. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-abuse-guns-new-york_us_5ac241d3e4b0f112dc9de756

[2]Vagianos, A. (2018, April 03). Convicted Domestic Abusers Will No Longer Be Able To Own Guns In New York State. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-abuse-guns-new-york_us_5ac241d3e4b0f112dc9de756

[3]Vagianos, A. (2018, April 03). Convicted Domestic Abusers Will No Longer Be Able To Own Guns In New York State. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-abuse-guns-new-york_us_5ac241d3e4b0f112dc9de756

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