Gun-Related Domestic Violence Calls are Up 74 Percent

From 2016 to 2017, the National Domestic Violence Hotline recorded a 74 percent increase in calls from domestic violence victims seeking help for abuse involving guns.

CEO Katie Ray-Jones called it a “sharp increase” which demonstrates the “many ways in which abuse plays out in a relationship where domestic violence is present.”

This increase is despite laws preventing domestic abusers from owning guns. The problem, though, is not that criminals simply ignore the law, rather that the laws we have aren’t strong enough.

In 1996, Senator Frank Lautenberg pushed Congress to make it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic abuse to buy a gun. Lautenberg liked to say the law was “dedicated to the simple principle that wife-beaters and child abusers should not have guns.”

It’s a common sense, but critical ban which protects not only domestic abuse victims but the general public as well. We’ve seen over and over again the link between domestic violence and mass shootings.

Yet twenty years later, men with histories of domestic violence still have little trouble accessing guns.

 

Part of the problem is with the systems used to report and track behavior that would make someone ineligible to buy a gun. Another is that we don’t take domestic violence seriously enough. Buta critical third part of the problem is an issue with the law itself: loopholes which have allowed domestic abusers to continue buying guns, despite the law forbidding them from doing so.

One such flaw in the legislation, known as the “boyfriend loophole,” is that the law only applies when the victim and abuser have been married, have a child together, or have lived together. This means that it does not apply to people who are dating, thus a boyfriend who is a convicted domestic abuser is still able to own a gun.

Many states have passed legislation to close this loophole and enacted other protections for domestic violence victims. Earlier this year, Oregon passed a law closing the boyfriend loophole, joining 23 other states and making it the first gun control law passed after the Parkland shooting.

Last year, Washington state passed a law which would alert domestic violence victims if their abuser even attempts to buy a gun, giving them critical time to take safety precautions.

Gun violence in our country is so frequent it almost feels normal. When the U.S. owns 46 percent of the world’s guns and hates regulating them, it is tragic but not surprising that there have been nearly as many mass shootings in 2018 as there have been days so far this year. Or that shootings are now the third leading cause of death for American children. Or that, despite legislation, domestic violence involving guns is on the rise.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

50 comments

Dave f
Past Member 3 months ago

Guns are bad news

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Marianne C
Marianne C3 months ago

A little off topic, but… There are battered men, to be sure. And we don’t hear as much about them as we do about battered women. Domestic battery as a whole is grossly under-reported, and male victims are statistically less likely to report than female.

Among the reason for this, I would suggest:

Male-on-female intimate partner violence has been shown by hospital and police records to cause significantly more fear and more severe injuries than female-on-male violence. This can result in men not considering themselves victims, and/or not understanding the violence they are experiencing is a crime.

Complicating the issue of male domestic partner victimization is the reality that many men are abused not by women, but by other men. These victims may not be fully "out" as LGBT even to their families and friends, and may be reluctant to report the abuse because it will out them. (Lesbian domestic violence is almost non-existent; as a group, female-female relationships are the least likely to involve violence.)

Another issue is the much higher number of abused women than abused men.

Continued below:

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Marianne C
Marianne C3 months ago

Part 2:

Sexual abuse has a much higher female victim rate: according to RAINN, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted). About 3% of American men -- or 1 in 33 -- have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. This is why we tend to think of rape as largely a crime against women.

The National Violence Against Women Survey carried out by the Department of Justice in 2000, surveyed 16,000 people (8,000 men and 8,000 women), and found that 7.4% of men reported physical assault by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date in their lifetime. Additionally, 0.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in the past year, equating to 834,732 men when projected to the general population. More than a million women per year seek medical aid for injuries from intimate partner abuse, and this falls far short of the entirety of US women who are abused every year.

A study in San Francisco in the 1990s concluded from the numbers of abuse cases it found that about 500,000 men are abused by intimate partners annually. But this was a gay men's study, and the victims the study concluded must exist were gay men being abused by other men.

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Marianne C
Marianne C3 months ago

Part 3:

Comparing this number to the number above suggests that men are abusing men in about 60% of cases of abused men. We need to know if THAT is an accurate projection, because we need to know who the perpetrators are.

An additional complication is that abusers so often and so easily adopt the role of the victim. O.J. Simpson often called himself a "battered husband," with no evidence to back up the claim. Domestic abuser John Bobbitt tried unsuccessfully to play the abused male card when the victim he had abused for years snapped following his final violent rape, and cut off his penis -- although his subsequent arrest and conviction for domestic abuse in a later relationship lost him much of the sympathy he had garnered. I don't know if it is possible to address the real male victims of domestic violence without addressing such abusive fakers and projectors, who falsely claim abuse to get sympathy or to excuse the abuse they commit.

We've known since the 1970s that in the cycle of domestic violence, about 52% of women who are abused eventually strike back with violence, and injure or kill the men who are abusing them. I doubt it would be fair to count those women among abusers; self-defense by nature is not abuse.

If genuine research is to be undertaken, it must include all the factors of intimate partner abuse, as well as the severity, frequency, and injury involved.

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Karen H
Karen H3 months ago

no M, why don't you submit an article? I'm sure Care2 would consider it.

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Joan E
Joan E3 months ago

Trump is a nasty example for males and a horror for women.

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no M
no M4 months ago

As usual in our highly sexist (female-coddling and enabling) society, not a word about the growing number of female-against-male domestic violence cases each year.

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Joan E
Joan E4 months ago

Thanks for setting the tone, Trump.

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Tania N
Tania N4 months ago

Thank you

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Tania N
Tania N4 months ago

Thank you

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