The main factor determining if a victim of domestic violence survives: a firearm. When one is present, the victim is five times more likely to be killed. We’ve started to change that picture by passing legislation in 2018 to disarm identified abusers, but there is more work to do.
Mary Survived. Too many won’t.
Mary knew her boyfriend had multiple firearms. And, he used them to terrify and abuse her. He would hide under the laundry waiting for her to arrive, so he could violently threaten her and exert control. When she arrived home one evening, he was waiting in the driveway with a concealed firearm. She was scared.
Fortunately, Mary was able to de-escalate the situation that night, before fleeing Pennsylvania to escape her abuser. But she couldn’t leave the trauma behind of being stalked by someone who might have a hidden firearm at any given moment. It’s an experience all too familiar to the nearly one in four women and one in seven men who experience severe physical abuse at the hands of their intimate partner.
Mary was relatively lucky, every year dozens of partners in Mary’s situation are killed by their abuser–often with a firearm.
Firearms are weapon of choice
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians experience domestic violence. They are threatened and assaulted. When firearms are used the attack is 12 times more likely to end in death than other weapons.
Too many pay the ultimate price for abuse with a firearm, but the terror extends beyond that. As in Mary’s case, 4.5 million report being threatened by their partner with a firearm. It is used in these cases as a tool for control and fear, forcing partners to stay in a relationship for fear of their lives or that of their children.
Solutions are oriented towards help, removal
Keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers can save a life. In October of 2018, Governor Wolf closed loopholes in domestic violence law by signing Act 79. Now, when a final Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) is issued, judges must order all firearms to be relinquished within 24 hours to law enforcement or a federally-licensed firearm dealer. This ensures access isn’t returned.
Despite this change, 70 partners were killed with firearms in 2020. We must be more active in keeping firearms out of the hands of abusers before it’s too late.
Take a Stand
We’ll never stop fighting for a safe, gun violence-free Pennsylvania. If you share that goal, power our efforts today.