October 20, 2014 — To help protect women from gun violence, the U.S. needs "legislators who are willing to stand up to the gun lobby," Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense founder Shannon Watts writes in a Daily Beast opinion piece.
Watts notes that "an average of 48 American women are shot to death by a current or former intimate partner" monthly, but 38% "fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners" in states that require background checks to be performed on every person seeking to purchase a handgun. She adds, "[M]illions of guns are sold every year without a background check, so the ease with which a prohibited purchaser can buy a gun in this country is hard to overstate."
Watts also calls on policymakers to take stronger action to "prevent abusive dating partners or convicted stalkers from purchasing a firearm." She explains that more U.S. women die annually "at the hands of dating partners rather than spouses," but federal laws restricting gun purchases by abusers do not apply to non-spouses in most circumstances.
While lawmakers in some states have "achieved significant victories" in addressing gun violence this year, Watts argues that "[t]he best thing we can do for survivors of domestic violence is to provide them with avenues of support and ensure that the laws don't make their lives harder or more dangerous."
To do so, the U.S. "need[s] leaders at every level -- state, local and federal -- to understand the lives of women matter more than their NRA rating," Watts writes. She concludes, "We must enact the reforms necessary to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and that work begins with our vote on November 4" (Watts, Daily Beast, 10/16).