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The women who were murdered by their husbands during the process of receiving a permanent protective order were: Lori Jackson, Barbara Diane Dye, Jasmine Leonard, Laura Acheves, Tamisha Evette Ridge, Erica Bell, Chyna Joy Young, Evelyn burgos & her daughter, Annette Sowder-Fuller & her mother. Jasmine Leonard had a temporary restraining order against her husband and was fatally shot. Chyna Young turned 18 years old before she was shot and killed by her estranged boyfriend. At the time, she was 3 months pregnant.
During my time at the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, our facility advocated The Lori Jackson Survivor Act. This act was pivotal for our legislator to support this provision to protect women against gun violence from those subject to a temporary restraining order. Our facility knew the risk of being killed by intimate partner violence. The worst time for time in the cycle of abuse is when a woman decides to leave her abusive relationship.
It is often during this time that victims come to our legal advocates seeking a restraining order. However, this paradoxically leaves victims vulnerable during this time between when the restraining order in place and the moment she leaves her husband. Some suggest critics suggest there is no real problem of domestic violence. They argue that abuse continues only because the women tolerates it and does not leave. In fact, “it is more dangerous for a woman to try to leave her abuser than to stay. When a woman makes the difficult decision to leave her partner, she is in the most danger. The perpetrator uses abuse to obtain power and control over the victim. When the woman leaves, the abuser loses control over her” (Price 2014).
Federal law “protects domestic violence victims by preventing their abusers from possessing a firearm-but only once the court has issues a permanent restraining order” (Blumenthal 2014). Most people want strict gun control. Yet, the people that are affected don’t get it. Why?
The textbook answer is that the debate of gun control has been an issue for many decades in the United States. Purchasing a gun is quite easily. In most part of the United States, anyone with a clear record can purchase a handgun. Those that are prohibited from acquiring firearms by the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 are minors; adult under indictment or having felony conviction (due to the 1996 amendment misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence) (Ludwig 2003).
It is historically rooted in our society. Gun owners create incentives and activism towards political influence. Some Senators in congress have lobbyist with ties to the National Rifle Association. They can have influence over laws such as the Lori Jackson Survivor act that ends up being stagnant on a federal level.
While creating a small policy change such as the Lori Jackson Survivor act was premature for such a larger societal problem, some of the federal acts of gun control were implemented that helped me understand the potential impact for the future and instilled hope.
Statistically speaking, intimate partner violence is one of predominate killers of women in the world. In 66 counties, an intimate partner committed 13.5% of homicides and this proportion was six times higher for female homicide than for other homicides. At least “one in seven homicides globally and more than a third of female homicides are perpetrated by an intimate partner” (Stöckl 2013). This provides the issue is not only in the United States but affect the across nations.
Some were the Gun Control Act of 1968, implemented after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Federal Assault Weapons Band of 1994, which expired in 2004 and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, after the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan were enacted after something profound happened on a national level.
In the past, issues of domestic violence were kept hidden from the public eye. Domestic violence is recognized as a serious societal problem that affects all genders, socioeconomic, and race. Abused women are “five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm”(Campbell 2003). There is a growing source of knowledge regarding the prevalence of domestic violence since the 1970’s. This knowledge helped the Clinton administration to create a federal law that was called Violence against Women Act. This act plays a vital role in the protection and livelihood of women against intimate partner abuse.
Historically, the battered women’s movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s focused on providing a shelter and advocacy for women and their children. Some of these women pushed advocacy and mandated policy changes such as VAWA in 1995, Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. VAWA directly deals with domestic violence while RWOR and ASF deals with the women and their families within the welfare system and child protective services.
The current response to the increasing knowledge to data regarding the prevalence of domestic violence and implementing gun control is stagnant. Gun control has been a topic that has been haunting the United States for past two decades. With mass shootings like Sandy Hook or Columbine, there have been many attempts to regulate guns.
Many opponents of regulating guns argue the interpretations of the Second Amendment that constitutes the right to bear arms. Vizzard (2015) states “on a national level, gun control policy has remained essentially unchanged for the past 20 years. During 1993, that passage of the Brady Handgun Prevention Act and the federal assault weapon restrictions. The Brady Law requires a waiting period and criminal records check before a dealer may deliver a handgun to a purchase and was signed by President Clint in 1993. However, the 1994 Republican congressional victories marked any momentum for additional federal legislation”.
However, short of such federal changes, there is much work that can be done to improve intervention for women affected by domestic violence. Statistics show the correlation of domestic violence and gun control is lethal for women. Saltzman states, “domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force” (Saltzman 1992).
There is no federal law in place that keeps gun out of hands of abusive partners or husbands with temporary restraining orders. There are about 35 states where the law does not prohibit convicted perpetrators of domestic violence from buying or using laws. Finally, even if there was a federal law, it is easy for these perpetrators to purchase guns illegal. Failure-to-protect laws stem from the theory that is most appropriate to remove the woman from the household to a shelter.
Yet, the law does not protect the women or her child from harm with a temporary restraining order. It exposes a leeway for a lethal assault for a woman leaving her husband. What the Lori Jackson Survivor act creates is a critical barrier to prevent a lethal outcome of domestic violence. Implementing this act into a federal law that prohibits domestic violence abusers with a temporary restraining order from purchasing guns and confiscating their guns can improve the likelihood of a woman surviving.
Women that are already traumatized by the effects and exposure to domestic violence should not be afraid of their lives. One-statistic states “two-thirds of intimate partner homicides in the U.S. are committed using guns. One fourth of intimate offenders killed themselves after killing the victim with a gun” (Karan 2005). The tragic outcome of gun availability is not in the hands of the abuser but to themselves.
A startling statistics show that 1 out 4 battered women use guns to attempt suicide using a gun located in their homes. (Office of State Courts, 1997). This statistic shows that not only is guns dangerous to the abuser, but the victim of abuse can feel that there is no way out from the cycle. The perpetuation violence that the abuser inflicts on their victim can be a catalyst for suicide.
The Lori Jackson Survivor Protection Act contains a critical protection for victims of domestic violence. This act would restrict those under a temporary restraining order by removal of firearms of their abusers possession. This law proposes that all firearms from the perpetrators of domestic violence will be removed during this crucial time when a woman leaves her partner. This is also when most murders occur. This act was introduced in 2014, after the murder of Lori Jackson in Oxford, CT.
Richard Blumenthal is a Connecticut Senator that introduced the bill. The policy window opened after Lori Jackson was murdered in Oxford, CT. The following senators support this act: Dick Durbin (D-III), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
Currently, the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor act is introduced to senate. Some of the policy provisions prohibits the purchase of gun or ammunition to a person that been convicted of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or “intimate partner” violence. The target population is both men and women. They can also be for the LGTBQ community because intimate partner violence is very prevalent there but not widely discussed.
If the act were to pass into a federal law it would be a pivotal moment for women that have a temporary restraining order against her partner because police would confiscate the guns until a permanent restraining order takes place. This act would give a women time to seek refuge to a domestic violence shelter, gather her belongings and feel safe. The timeline for implementation for the Lori Jackson Act was on June 17th, 2014. Since then, there has been no progress. Policy makers expect to happen as a result of the policy is stricter regulations on the possession of firearm and ammunition for the perpetrators of domestic violence for those who have a temporary restraining order.
The effects of the policy if it reached to a federal level would be confiscation of all guns and ammunition from all perpetrators of domestic violence and provide safety for abused women. Local police officers in the communities would implement this when a temporary restraining order is place. All perpetrators would be forced to hand over their guns, giving these battered women a sense of comfort in knowing that their lives are not endangered. Support for these women would be beneficial to these women and provided by domestic violence advocacy groups nationwide.
Currently, there are legislative bill passed in the state of Connecticut pertaining to eliminating guns in the hands of an abuser. However, it is still in sitting in Congress as of 2016. The disadvantage of having this is that it limits the treatment of protecting abused women. It lacks the proper coverage of saving these women lives in a moment where she is vulnerable. By not having this law pass federally, it does not fully resolve the issue, because clear restrictions on gun regulation are difficult to set. The scope and restriction on Intimate Partner Violence and gun control is a growing issue in the United States.
Many current state policies could be encouraged to implement these laws with federal government intervention. However, there is a growing opposition from pro-gun lobbying and the NRA. Democrats want this bill to requite the “subject of temporary order to turn in their firearm to police within 24 hours. The bill requires a hearing on a full order to take place within seven days to usher along the process in a timely fashion, instead of a two week time allotment” (Kahn 2016).
With the rising use of guns and along the rising rate of female homicide not only in the United States but also across the globe, quick reform is necessary to ensure victims to have access to safety and quality protection from our law reinforcement across all counties and states. Although a state reform in CT was implemented, there needs to be a broad implementation in other counties and states across the country without the influences of the NRA or Senators that do not want gun control imposed in their state. The implementation of these federal laws will require states to protect their female citizens and put those who do not respect the second amendment with care and responsibility to face the consequences. There are places where this law could face improvements. As of June 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that assailants of domestic violence lose their right to bear arms after a conviction. With a 6-2 ruling, Justice Elena Kagan endorsed and upheld sentences imposed on two Maine men who argued their misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence (Wolf 2016). This is pivotal because there is a movement in which the Supreme Court interpreted the law and had a restoration of the denying access of abusers to the right to own firearms. This is something that is important for Congress to uphold.
An alternative policy would be implementing is for each state to have their own laws in accordance to laws and gun control while being concise with federal regulation. However, I would like to see the Southern states to have stricter regulation. In addition, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center was advocating for legislators to oppose HB 5597. Republican J. Brendan Sharkey and Senator Donald E. Williams introduced the bill. It was signed by Governor Daniel Malloy and transmitted to the Secretary of the State to Governor. On June 7th, 2014, was passed by the Senate.
This bill would allow the removal of firearms from an individual in temporary restraining order only by the use of a risk warrant. This process is deadly since is does not prohibit offenders from purchasing or possessing firearms. This bill would require criminal court to initiate risk warrant process. It is extremely dangerous because many victims for whom I worked for are anxious to seek civil protection from the court. They are justifiable wary of contracting of involving police. If laws like this are passed, this increases their fear of retaliation by their abuser. Furthermore, passing laws like a risk warrant further perpetuated the likelihood of a women being murdered by her husband.
Unfortunately, certain policies intact create risk to victims of domestic violence that are unnecessary and preventable. Advocates and volunteers work endlessly to take a stand for victims of domestic violence. However, federal laws on gun control make it impossible. With startling statistics like, “[Domestic Violence] becomes more deadly when guns are in the mix. Having guns present in the home increases the likelihood of domestic violence ending the firearm homicide nearly eight-fold” (Price 2014).
Despite this, statistics demonstrate why a provision as the removal of guns is so integral to the victim and her children’s safety. Certain policies can reduce the intimate partner homicides in the country. We should not leave our victims vulnerable during a period when they are most likely to be harmed. We need to take a stand. As an advocate of Domestic Violence and seeing how much these women suffered, we need to make a change. There should be no more Lori Jacksons and countless other woman murdered across the nation.
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