As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep people in their homes, experts and police are increasingly worried about the uptick in domestic violence calls. On Sunday, the Topeka Capital Journal reported that the Topeka police are seeing an increase in domestic violence since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Police in Topeka have responded to 1,647 domestic calls this year between Jan. 1 and April 2, compared to 1,552 during that same time period last year, the Capital Journal reported, citing Police Chief Bill Cochran. Additionally, Kansas has seen a rise in gun sales: the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) found that the number of background checks conducted in the state during March 2020 was 72 percent higher than in March 2019.
“In this already scary time, domestic violence victims don’t have the privilege to safely shelter in place — and more firearms in the home only increase the risk for a deadly domestic violence situation,” said LaTonya Boyd, a volunteer with the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action and member of the Everytown Survivor Network whose daughter, Tyesha, was shot and killed by her ex-partner in 2009. “Resources should be readily available for victims and survivors of domestic violence now — and when it is safe, lawmakers need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
In 2018, a bill to prohibit most domestic abusers from possessing guns was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by then-Governor Jeff Colyer. This session, Moms Demand Action volunteers were pushing for House Bill 2733, which would add a process for prohibited abusers to relinquish firearms they may already possess, giving law enforcement officers additional tools to ensure domestic abusers in Kansas don’t have easy access to guns. So far, the bill has not been heard or voted on.
Here’s more on domestic violence in Kansas:
- Domestic violence and gun violence are inextricably linked. Every month, an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner in the United States. Nearly 1 million women alive today have reported being shot or shot at by intimate partners, and 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun.
- At least 29 women were fatally shot by an intimate partner in Kansas between 2014 and 2018. Over three out of every five intimate partner homicides in Kansas involved a firearm. And amid COVID-19 closures, concerns for domestic violence among families in isolation continue to grow.
- Nationally, women of color are victims of homicide at higher rates than white women, and over 55 percent of these killings are committed by an intimate partner — like LaTonya Boyd’s daughter, Tyesha, who was shot and killed by an abusive partner.
More information about domestic violence legislation available here. Statistics about gun violence in Kansas are available here, and information on how Kansas’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.