Thursday, June 23, 2016

On guns, stop talking about terrorism. Start talking about domestic violence.

Vox makes a lot of sense with, On guns, stop talking about terrorism. Start talking about domestic violence.

Mass shootings are so scary because they seem so unpredictable. They can happen anywhere and to anyone, and they are often carried out by men who have no criminal history that could have prevented them from buying a gun in the first place. But in fact, the majority of what could be called 'mass shootings' are all too predictable — and many victims are the women and children who find themselves entangled in the lives of violently abusive men.

More than half of mass shootings (defined as a shooting in which at least four people are killed with a gun) involve a current or former intimate partner or a family member. Most of the victims of those shootings, 81 percent, are women or children. And 70 percent of all mass shootings happen inside the home, not out in public. These shootings make the local news, but they are both so private and so sadly routine that they almost never get the massive national attention that rarer public shootings do."

So if we care about protecting victims, there’s already a lot of incentive to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. And indeed, there are already some laws in place to do this. Federal law prohibits the sale or possession of guns for anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, or anyone who is subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Some states have laws that allow or require law enforcement agents to seize any guns found at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

But not all states have the same laws, and federal law has significant limitations. Non-married partners who don’t live together are not protected, nor are family members other than children. It helps that federal law covers misdemeanors and restraining orders, since it’s difficult to get a felony conviction for domestic violence. But federal law only covers a full restraining order — and victims face the highest risk for violent retaliation from their abusers after an initial temporary restraining order is granted, and that comes before a full order.

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