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UN Secretary-General: Governments Must Address Global Surge of Domestic Violence

April 6, 2020

When it Comes to Gun Violence, the United States is the Most Dangerous High-Income Nation for Women

Last Week, Everytown and Moms Demand Action Released Guidance for Governors to Address Gun-Related Domestic Violence 

NEW YORK — On Sunday night, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on governments around the world to address the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., shelter-in-place orders and increased gun sales are putting domestic violence victims at higher risk — access to a gun makes an abuser five times more likely to kill their female victim. 

“Even in the best of times, no high-income nation is more dangerous for women than the United States when it comes to gun violence. That’s because no other high-income country allows abusers such easy access to arsenals and ammunition,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “As we face a public health crisis that is isolating women with their abusers, incidents of domestic violence are skyrocketing around the world. American women need their lawmakers’ protection more than ever.”

“What we’re seeing here is the convergence of three of our nation’s most pressing public health emergencies: the pandemic, the gun violence crisis, and the domestic violence crisis,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The good news is that there are actions federal and state officials can take now to keep victims safe, starting with making sure law enforcement has time to complete each and every background check.”

New data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) shows there were over 3.7 million background checks in March 2020, 41 percent higher than in March 2019. Due to the Charleston loophole, if a background check on a gun sale takes longer than three business days to complete then a gun dealer can decide to complete the sale. Background checks of convicted domestic abusers often take longer than any other prohibiting category. A risk with the historic number of background checks is that law enforcement will not have enough time to complete each background check and a firearm will be transferred to someone who is actually a prohibited convicted domestic abuser. 

Last week, Everytown and Moms Demand Action released guidance that governors across the country can use to reduce gun violence during the pandemic, which included recommending that governors close the Charleston loophole to reduce the risk of domestic violence. On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s 2020 budget, including provisions to disarm domestic abusers mirroring Everytown’s guidance.

More information on the link between guns and domestic violence is available here and resources for survivors of domestic abuse can be found here.

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