In the wake of the tragedy at Newtown and the growing bipartisan support for sensible gun safety regulations, the gun manufacturing lobby has advanced a particularly noxious lie: that an unchecked, free-for-all gun market could guarantee women’s safety. In reality, gun violence has a particularly devastating impact for women, who suffer from domestic violence at stunning rates. This week alone, at least 11 people were shot in domestic violence related incidents. Here are the facts about women and gun violence:
1. Women care about gun safety. A recent poll released by the Pew Research Center revealed a stark gender divide when it comes to support for common sense gun violence prevention measures—a 21-point gap between men and women asked about the relative importance of gun violence prevention compared to unfettered access—with women focused on safety. 90 percent of women are concerned about gun violence—and 63% are very concerned.
2. The threat of violence in the home is real. Women are twice as likely to be shot and killed by intimate partners as they are to be murdered by strangers using any type of weapon. American women who are killed by their intimate partners are more likely to be killed with guns than by all other methods combined. Approximately 700 American women are shot and killed by intimate partners each year.
3. Convincing women to buy guns is a marketing strategy, not a public service. Despite gun manufacturer’s rhetoric about protecting women, the reality is that selling women guns is about profit, not protection—as demonstrated above, having a gun in the home is not a guarantee for safety, and actually endangers the 960,000 women who experience domestic violence each year.
4. Stalkers can buy guns. There is currently no federal law prohibiting those convicted of stalking from acquiring firearms. This is particularly disturbing given that stalking is usually part of a pattern of escalating, violent behavior. An abuser’s access to a gun is associated with an 8-fold increase in the risk of homicide.
5. Women are listening to those most affected by gun violence. When given a list of people and organizations and asked which groups were most influential on matters of gun violence, women’s top two picks were “a mother trying to keep her kids safe,” and “someone whose family members were killed.” In last place? The NRA.
Where do women go from here? The answer is: we’re already on the move. The Pew poll reveals that women are eager to engage on the topic of gun violence, with political activism at the top of the list. When asked what they were most likely to do to address gun violence, the number one-ranked answer was writing elected officials in support of new laws.