Earlier this week, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence.
Two bills were addressed at the hearing, sponsored by Committee members: S.1290: Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013 by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and S.174: Ammunition Background Check Act of 2013 by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
The Committee and the presenting panel discussed the importance of the dangerous combination of domestic violence and guns. It was made clear that this was not a hearing on the validity of the Second Amendment. Rather, the room was filled with Americans who sought to best assess how guns in domestic violence situations threaten American women, and assure that those who should not possess guns, do not.
As proposed in both Klobuchar and Blumenthal’s legislation, the time is now for our country to act to prevent widespread domestic violence. By expanding the definition of “intimate partner” to include one’s dating partner, addressing the dangers of stalking, and by implementing necessary background checks before purchasing a gun, the majority of the room believed the passing of these bills would better the lives of American women.
The opposition was small but present, with Senator Grassley (R-IA) stating that Klobuchar’s bill would be too difficult to apply to those who already possess guns, and panelist Dr. Joyce Malcolm claiming the bill treats the accused as if they are already guilty with a loss of due process.
In response to how the bills affect restraining orders, Blumenthal asked, “How can someone be too dangerous to see their child, but not dangerous enough to own a gun?”
As if preventing women from gun and domestic violence was ever an issue in question, there were a number of statistics presented by the Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in which every American should be informed:
- American women are 11 times more likely to be killed with guns than women in any other industrialized country.
- Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world.
- When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, it increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.
- In states with background check laws, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.
The hearing room was full of Senators, domestic violence victims, families, friends, and activists, and it was overflowing with their support for the deserved rights of the women of America.
Two of the three panelists sharing their support for the domestic and gun violence legislation openly identified themselves as conservative Republicans, and claimed that these bills in question were “common sense” and that they deserved bipartisan attention.