James Gilligan, one of this country's foremost authorities on violence, writes:
The use of violence as a means of resolving conflict between persons, groups, and nations is a strategy we learn first at home. All of our basic problem-solving, problem-exacerbating, and problem-creating strategies, for living and dying, are learned first at home. (From Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes, p. 5).
For many unfortunate women and children, home is a place that defies our common conception of the word—comfort, security, refuge. For these women and children, home is a very dangerous place to live. The numbers are clear:
- In a study of 23 high-income nations, 87% of the children under the age of 15 killed by guns lived in the United States.
- More than half of our youth who commit suicide do so with a gun obtained from their home. And more often than not, with a gun that belonged to their parents.
- In 2010, of females killed by a firearm, more than 2/3 were killed by an intimate partner.
- Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving bodily force.
- Abused women are 5 times more likely to be killed by their abuser if their abuser owns a firearm.
Add to these dire statistics the simple fact that of all OECD countries with a per-capita income over $15K, the United States accounts for 30% of the population and 90% of the firearm homicides, and we begin to understand the magnitude of this problem.
America is a very violent nation, and much of this violence is directed toward our women and children. We must do something about it.
And we can, even though problems of this sort rarely admit of simple solutions.
Here are four legislative fixes that will work and that we must continually demand of our elected officials.
- Ban all convicted abusers, stalkers, and people subject to related restraining orders from possessing guns.
- Provide all records of prohibited abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.
- Require a background check for all gun sales. Period.
- Ensure that all abusers surrender their firearms once they become prohibited.
With these four simple solutions in mind, and with organized initiatives at the local, state, and national level, we can make a difference and begin to rehabilitate our country.
And don't forget to check out Women Against Gun Violence. They've been around for over two decades, and they're a deep source of information about gun-violence as well a model for the social organization needed to accomplish our goals.