October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, when we devote time and energy to making ourselves and those around us aware of one of the most insidious and silent problems that plagues women, men, and children in this country. Earlier this month on RACblog we discussed how can channel our moral outrage at domestic violence into action and urge our Members of Congress to support the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 3571/S. 2307). You may be aware that domestic violence is an issue in this country. You may not know, however, about how crucial the issue of gun violence prevention is to the protection of victims of domestic abuse.
This month, Washington State will be receiving their ballots to vote on two contradictory ballot initiatives related to gun violence, which they will send in by mail by November 4. Ballot initiative I-594 would require universal background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales. Laws similar to this have been passed elsewhere, including last year in Maryland where the new law has already led to a significant drop in gun deaths state-wide. Confusingly, an alternative ballot initiative I-591 would act to prevent state background checks unless a federal law was established. I-591 relies on the fact that a bipartisan federal background check law failed last year.
On Sunday, April 13, 2014, just before Passover began, Fraizer Glenn Cross opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, killing Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Reat Griffin Underwood. Corporon was accompanying Underwood to auditions for the KC SuperStar singing competition, which were held at the JCC that day. Cross opened fire again at Village Shalom, a Jewish old age home about a mile away, killing Terri LaManno, an occupational therapist who was visiting her mother. After being taken into custody, Cross yelled, “Heil Hitler.”
The beginning of the school year for me has always been filled with the comfort of the early September winds and the coming High Holy Days. With the first day of classes brings with it new teachers, classrooms, and friends. Dipping apples in honey, smelling the musty reticence of the shofar, and walking along the beach throwing breadcrumbs give me the sense of clean slate, a new start and a new year.
Right before my daughter was born, my husband and I took a childcare class. We were the typical expectant parents, eagerly awaiting the birth of our child, and petrified that we wouldn’t know what to do once she arrived. I expected to learn how to put on a diaper and what to do for an earache. What I didn’t expect was for the instructor to say that before I let my child go on a play date, I should ask the host family if they had a gun in the house and how they stored it. Before that, I had never actually thought about my quiet suburban neighbors touting firearms that could endanger my child.
Fast forward a couple of years to our joining Temple Israel in Boston. TI was a pioneer in using faith-based community organizing methods, and was engaging in house meetings. One emerging theme was huge concerns about teenagers experiencing stress and issues regarding their safety. And then, there was Newtown, CT. The tragedy of kindergarten children and their teachers being tragically murdered brought all of our attention to the threat of gun violence, and the threats that guns pose when used in crimes, suicides, and accidents.
With seemingly near constant news headlines of mass shootings and other acts of gun violence, debate on prevention measures for public safety is critical. The issue of whether universal background checks should be required for all firearm purchases is a possible solution to decrease some of these disturbing statistics:
- One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot;
- On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated in an emergency room for gun-related injuries;
- Every day, about 51 people take their own life with a gun and 45 people are shot or killed in a gun accident.
This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing called VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence. Greater attention paid to the intersection between gun violence and domestic violence will hopefully lead to better protections for women from domestic violence, and help end the scourge of gun violence in our country. Read more…