There's no question that firearms can make domestic violence dramatically worse.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times likelier to result in death. And between 1995 and 2005, firearms were used in more than two-thirds of all murders of spouses and ex-spouses. Strong firearm laws are known to reduce the danger of firearm death and injury to women and families, alongside improved resources to escape an abusive situation.
House Bill 1840 Implementation
In 2014, House Bill 1840 passed the Legislature in Washington State after years of opposition by the gun lobby. The purpose of the legislation was to remove firearms from those subject to a domestic violence protective order. Shortly after House Bill 1840 became law, The Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation commissioned a study, in partnership with stakeholders and the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, to develop a statewide implementation strategy. The study helped the implementation taskforce develop recommendations, strategy and process for stakeholders to work together to successfully utilize the law and provide a best practice case study for other states looking to implement similar laws. That work has been underway for nearly three years, which led to successful implementation across the state, creation of the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit, as well as a blueprint for implementation of other gun violence prevention laws in Washington.
Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit
After years of advocacy from survivors and families, the Legislature in 2014 unanimously strengthened federal laws prohibiting domestic violence abusers from having access to weapons when certain Protection Orders are issued by Superior Courts, District Courts or Municipal Courts. However, no resources were provided to implement the law and available data showed that very few firearms were currently being surrendered, and enforcement was sporadic. It’s not enough for a woman to have a protection order that requires firearm surrender, it must be served and enforced in a timely fashion and according to the law.
Upon recommendation by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation, in partnership with stakeholders and the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, Seattle and King County created and fully funded the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit. The unit took the recommended multi-disciplinary, regionalized and dedicated approach to tackling this public health and public safety priority. Because we know that gun violence does not stop at jurisdictional boundaries, we must step up and enforce the law to reduce the risk of harm for survivors, their families and the community. The unit now manages the data entry, service, tracking, enforcement of the orders and the receipt, storage and return of surrendered firearms across Seattle and King County. To date, the unit has collected over 200 firearms from prohibited punchers with a domestic violence protection order.
Law Enforcement and Victim Safety Implementation
Thousands of times each year in the United States, someone convicted of domestic abuse or subject to an active restraining order seeks to illegally purchase a gun from a licensed dealer — usually, without any consequences. On July 23, Washington became the first state to require authorities to notify victims when such an attempted sale takes place. The law seeks to crack down on all prohibited purchasers who attempt to buy firearms in the state, a practice known as “lie and try.”
Law Enforcement and Victim Safety notifies law enforcement and victims when felons, domestic abusers and other ineligible people illegally attempt to purchase guns. This will give victims an opportunity to proactively take steps to keep themselves and their families safe. The law also provides police new tools to investigate illegal attempts to buy guns. In Washington State, there are over 3,000 illegal attempts to buy a gun every year.
Disarm Domestic Violence Partnership
Research shows that removing guns from domestic abusers saves lives. But often, state laws regarding firearm removal in cases of domestic violence are difficult to navigate and in some states non-existent. This creates obstacles for victims and survivors to get the protection they need.
To address this problem, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation, and the Prosecutors Against Gun Violence have teamed up to launch a new initiative: Disarm Domestic Violence.
The Disarm Domestic Violence website, due to launch in October 2018, will allow advocates, gun violence prevention activists, survivors, victims, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and so many others to research state-specific laws on domestic violence-related protective order firearm removals and take steps to remove guns from armed abusers.
Disarm Domestic Violence will be a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind tool, and we need your help to make the project successful. To learn more and to sign up for email updates, visit disarmdv.org.
Domestic Violence Social Media Partnership: A Partnership for Prevention
In October 2015, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation partnered with the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence to launch a social media awareness project called, “A Partnership for Prevention.” The mission is to get the word out about the impact of domestic violence, and the intersection of firearms and domestic violence.
Enough is Enough
“Enough is Enough,” a digital public education campaign between the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation, the Seattle Police Department and the Center to End Gender-Based Violence, shines a light on how firearms dramatically worsen domestic violence situations – and to send a clear message: Enough is Enough.
Launched in March 2015 to commemorate International Women’s Day, this digital media partnership details how, every day in the United States, far too many families – and especially women – become victims of domestic violence.