I don’t think I have ever written specifically about gun control before, but I am moved to do so by a link I was sent recently to a new video on YouTube. In it, a former National Rifle Association member, now living in Australia, expresses his deep disappointment and concern about the position that the NRA in the US is currently taking on guns, in the name of ‘freedom’. As he puts it, “when did protecting guns become more important than protecting people?”
This is an issue that directly affects women. According to 2010 FBI data, reported in the Huffington Post in May this year, almost two thirds of women who are murdered each year die at the hands of a family member or partner. In fact, in situations that involve domestic violence, “having a gun in the home makes a woman eight times more likely to be killed.”
This infographic is stark and clear – Women in the U.S. are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries; the presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent; people with a history of committing domestic violence are more likely to subsequently murder an intimate partner, and firearms significantly increase the risk of homicide for women.
When it works properly, the background check system keeps guns out of domestic abusers’ hands; the proof lies in the statistic that in US states that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.
With such a strong link between domestic violence homicides and firearms, it seems only commonsense that doing what we can to make it more difficult for people to own guns will go some way to reducing deaths of women. In this context, it doesn’t make sense at all to oppose universal background checks.
Chris Komor’s message in his YouTube video is simple – this issue affects us all. His approach is an entirely commonsense one, as is his call to action. Wherever you are in the world, do try to do something about gun control.