October 14, 2014 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Cofounder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, will kick off a national, nine-state ”Protect All Women Tour” today highlighting the need for stronger state and federal laws that protect women and families from gun violence and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Congresswoman Giffords, a gun owner herself, will speak at events with local women leaders, legislators, law enforcement officials, and domestic violence prevention advocates in Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. The events aim to heighten awareness of the nexus of gun crime and domestic violence in the United States, and empower women to reduce gun violence in their communities.
The ”Protect All Women Tour,” which begins today in Portland, Maine, will run through October 22nd.
”Dangerous people who get their hands on guns are a threat to women, families, and our communities. The number of women dying from gun violence has become a national shame. That’s why gun violence is a women’s issue,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. ”Leaders from across the country – Republicans and Democrats – must come together and help make women safer from gun violence. It is time to act. Women’s lives are at stake.”
Earlier this year, Congresswoman Giffords formed the #ProtectAllWomen Leadership Network along with other national women leaders to educate state and federal leaders on the need for solutions that protect women from gun violence. Representing a broad cross section of the gun violence prevention, domestic violence prevention, and women’s advocacy movements, the group is working for action at the state and federal levels in the 2015 legislative sessions. Priorities of the Network include:
Preventing stalkers and abusers from having easy access to guns;
Expanding background checks to prevent criminals, domestic abusers and others who threaten us and our communities from accessing firearms; and,
Strengthening existing federal, state and local policies and ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent and address gun violence against women.
BACKGROUND: GUN VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES
Gun violence and domestic violence are a lethal mix in the United States. Women in the U.S. are 11 times 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. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser has access to a firearm.
Federal, state and local laws intended to reduce domestic abusers’ access to guns include several major loopholes. While current federal law prohibits convicted domestic abusers and felony stalkers from legally buying guns, individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking are not prohibited from purchasing firearms; they can still pass a background check and buy a gun through the so-called ‘stalker gap’.
Although federal law prevents convicted domestic abusers from possessing and purchasing firearms, those protections do not extend to individuals who are in dating relationships. As a result, our nation’s gun laws do not generally restrict access to guns by people who have committed violent acts against dating partners if the couple has never married, lived together, or had a child together. In fact, in 2008, nearly half of all domestic violence homicides were committed against a current or former dating partner.
Additionally, convicted domestic abusers and felony stalkers (who are prohibited from possessing firearms) can evade federal and state law by purchasing a gun at a gun show or on the Internet, where the transaction does not require a background check.