Why Aren’t We Doing More to Keep Women Safe From Gun Violence?

Why Aren't We Doing More to Keep Women Safe From Gun Violence?

Shannon Watts Become a fan
Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Updated: 06/02/2014 5:59 pm EDT

The tragic shooting in Santa Barbara last week sparked an important conversation: why aren’t we doing more to keep women safe?

For too long, women have been left out of the discussion about gun violence. We’re 54 percent of the electorate, but only 19 percent of Congress. We account for only 24 percent of all state legislators nationwide. Clearly, the laws allowing our country’s culture of gun violence are not being made by the mothers who lose eight children and teens every day to a gunshot.

And yet, ironically, our weak federal and state gun laws disproportionately affect women. American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. On average, 46 women are shot to death by a current or former husband or boyfriend every month. And those mass shootings that that occur in America with startling regularity? Fifty-seven percent of them involve domestic violence.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The data we’ve collected proves that stronger gun laws actually save women’s lives. In the 16 states that have done what Congress refuses to do — close the background checks on unlicensed gun sales — 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.

So why for decades has the NRA’s leaders and lobbyists actually fought against women’s best interests by working to keep guns in the hands of domestic abusers? They’ve led the opposition to proposals that would require that those subject to court-issued restraining orders relinquish their firearms. They claim nothing short of a felony conviction should restrict someone’s right to gun ownership — not even “mere issuance of court orders,” as one NRA lobbyist put it.

But in 2014, American women fought back against the NRA, and we are winning the fight to strengthen the laws on our states’ books.

Two conservative, pro-NRA governors — Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal — both signed bills into law this year that will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers — legislation the NRA previously opposed but remained silent on this year. Wisconsin’s new law will ensure that domestic abusers comply with the law that prohibits them from possessing guns. Louisiana’s law will prohibit domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms, and, in turn, protect more women and families in a state that regularly leads the nation in domestic homicides per capita. Washington State, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont also all passed similar bipartisan legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

Putting these laws on the books — in states with strong traditions of gun ownership — is a turning point for American women. The group I founded, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, is only 18 months old, but we are making substantial progress. As women and mothers collectively keep the pressure on Congress to act, our wins at the state level will keep adding up.

But the momentum isn’t confined to state capitols. Senator Klobuchar has written a sensible bill that would add domestic abusers and stalkers to the list of individuals prohibited from purchasing a gun. Strengthening the protections women have from convicted stalkers is critical because 9 in 10 attempted murders of women involve at least one incident of stalking in the year before the attempted murder.

As legislative sessions in states as different as Wisconsin, Louisiana, Washington, New Hampshire, and Minnesota have made clear, the future for the NRA’s brand of obstruction at any cost — including the lives of mothers and daughters — looks grim. Good gun laws make for good politics, too — and legislators and candidates for elected office, no matter their political parties, would do well to take note, because women and moms are paying attention.

In an election year – and perhaps, recognizing that trying to sell more guns to women while advocating on behalf of domestic abusers wasn’t a sound strategy – the NRA backed down from such an extreme and irresponsible position. But it took a movement of angry, fed-up Americans to tear down their resistance.

We’ve long had public opinion on our side (as a recent POLITICO poll confirmed). And now we’ve racked up real wins in states across the country. It’s time to take that political capital to the bank: It’s time for women and mothers to ask their elected leaders “Who do you side with, me or the NRA?”

Follow Shannon Watts on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@shannonrwatts

This Simple Fix Could Lift Hundreds of Thousands of Working Women Out of Poverty

 This Simple Fix Could Lift Hundreds of Thousands of Working Women Out of Poverty

Michelle Chen on June 4, 2014 – 12:51 PM ET
Photo (Courtesy: OUR Walmart, @forrespect)

Lashanda Myrick, a Colorado mother of two, came to Walmart last year seeking a steady job that would help her provide for her children. Instead, she got a job that made it harder to be a mom. When she drops her young daughter off at night at her mother’s house so she can work the overnight shift stocking shelves, she thinks about how her irregular work schedule disrupts her parenting schedule.

“It’s hard not to be able to tuck her in. And it hurts me that my child can’t sleep in her own bed at night. And there’s nothing I can do,” she said at a press conference earlier this week organized by the labor coalition OUR Walmart. “It breaks my heart … because I really have no choice.”

Myrick’s experiences illustrate the ugly duality of the Walmart economy: while consumers enjoy low prices and unlimited selection, workers get low wages and impossible choices. Family versus work, a poverty wage or no job at all.

A new report from the left-leaning think tank Demos reveals the structures of inequality that keep women like Myrick at the lowest rungs of the Big Box retail labor force. Today, researchers found, roughly 1.3 million women working retail jobs live in or near poverty; a typical woman salesperson earns just $10.58 an hour. On top of utterly low wages, women in retail, including many family breadwinners, face a stunning gender gap, typically earning only 72 cents for every dollar earned by male counterparts. That’s a cumulative annual wage deficit of $40.8 billion, equivalent to $381 billion in “lost wages” for women by 2022.

The losses run deeper than their paycheck. Workers skip doctor’s visits because they lack paid leave time and scrimp on groceries to pay the bills. With just 5 percent of retail workers granted paid parental leave, new parents are pressured to rush back to work, potentially jeopardizing their newborn’s health. These day-to-day hardships tax public resources, too, as working-poor families absorb public funds in the form of food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance programs.

The structural impoverishment is compounded by chaotic, unstable schedules. As we’ve reported before, retail work often puts workers “on call,” with irregular hours that vary weekly or daily.

Meanwhile, the retail sector is expanding rapidly, sucking more workers into the low-wage workforce as middle-income jobs evaporate in the hobbling economic “recovery.”

The lack of job security and union representation deters workers from agitating for better pay and working conditions, perpetuating a cycle of instability and impoverishment in a constantly churning workforce.

But Demos suggests an elegant strategy for addressing multiple inequities at once: a cross-the-board wage hike at large retailers (with 1,000 or more employees). According to the report, raising hourly pay to a level equivalent to $25,000 per year for a full-time worker—about $12.25 an hour—would help close the gender wage gap and lift the poorest workers out of poverty, with trickle-up benefits for the whole labor force.

An estimated 437,000 working women will move out of poverty or near poverty once their wages increase to the new minimum. Family members, too, will benefit from the raise. In all, 371,000 female workers and their family members will leave the ranks of the impoverished. Another 517,000 will rise above the near poverty cutoff.

A mandatory wage hike would be no “job killer,” either. Demos projects that the guaranteed income would actually be an economic boon. More money in low-income workers’ pockets would stimulate consumer spending, boost sales and ultimately add about 105,000 to 136,000 jobs to the workforce. The projected boost to the GDP would range from $12.1 billion to $15.7 billion, the majority generated by women workers.

Relative to the industry’s soaring profits, the additional labor costs would come pretty cheap. The proposed base wage would require a $21.5 billion investment, which represents some 4 percent of the industry’s total 2012 payroll. The effect on retail prices is hard to predict, but even if bosses passed half of those costs on to shoppers, a typical family would pay less than $18 extra over the course of a year—a negligible surcharge for a measure that could help narrow structural income and gender gaps.

Still, $25,000 is not a magic number. Rather, the analysis is framed around a benchmark salary cited by Walmart worker advocates, who note, with outrage, that most of the company’s workers earn less. The proposed hourly pay of $12.25 falls below wage demands put forward by other activists—particularly the $15-per-hour demanded by the fast-food workers’ movement, the citywide campaign that pushed through a $15 wage floor in Seattle, and similar initiatives emerging in other cities.

Aside from a pay raise, women working part-time, who make up an estimated 44 percent of the retail workforce, need an even greater boost to attain a sustainable livelihood. Nearly one in three of those women want full-time work, according to researchers. And even workers who are classified as full-time often see their earnings undermined when their hours are cut back, because under the erratic “just in time” scheduling system, their hours vary wildly depending on fluctuations in inventory.

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So Demos advocates a $12.25 hourly base wage for both full-time and part-time workers. Moreover, to improve overall working conditions, the report urges big retailers to give “involuntary” part-timers more hours, while instituting fairer scheduling practices. Workers should, for example, be informed about their schedules weeks in advance, instead of just days, or be guaranteed a certain number of hours per week, or alternately, a basic weekly pay level, regardless of hours worked.

According to Demos policy analyst Amy Traub, mega-retailers could afford to offer both more hours and more pay, particularly with the added knock-on effects of the elevated wage levels in terms of increased sales. “This is not a poor industry,” Traub says, and given the potential business gains from a better-compensated workforce, “A raise for employees and improving scheduling would be an investment in human capital for these companies.”

Myrick has a different investment in mind, as she goes on strike today as part of the nationwide “Walmart Moms” campaign. “Many times I have to choose between getting shoes for my daughter or my son”, she recalled, “and that’s no choice that a parent should have to make.” As she struggles to balance her work and family needs, a modest raise won’t fix everything, but it might spare her at least one impossible choice.


Economic Gains Flow to the Top as Oregon Income Inequality Soars – Oregon Center for Public Policy

Economic Gains Flow to the Top as Oregon Income Inequality Soars – Oregon Center for Public Policy.

A View of the State of Working Oregon The past three decades in Oregon have witnessed a surge in income inequality. As the income of the fortunate few at the top has soared, the income of most Oregonians has stagnated or declined. The surge in income inequality has occurred even as Oregon’s economy has expanded.[1] Indeed, although inequality declined during the recession, the income gap has widened during the recovery. This shows that economic growth alone does not and will not create economic opportunity and security for many Oregonians. Policymakers need to use every tool available to increase opportunity for those who have been left behind and should avoid upside-down tax policies that exacerbate inequality. A View of the State of Working Oregon is a series of occasional OCPP fact sheets published to help explain Oregon’s economy from the perspective of working families. See the series here. Download a copy of this fact sheet: Economic Gains Flow to the Top as Oregon Income Inequality Soars (PDF) Related materials: If Economic Growth Assured Well-Being Oregonians Would be Thriving, April 30, 2014 Those at the top of Oregon’s income scale have seen their income soar over the past three decades. To belong to Oregon’s top 1 percent in 2012, the most recent year with data available, a taxpayer had to make at least $340,470. The top 1 percent’s average income was about $880,000 that year. Though this is down from the pre-recession peak in 2007, it is more than two-and-a-half times the inflation-adjusted average of about $317,000 in 1980.[2] By contrast, the typical Oregon taxpayer’s income has eroded. The income of the median taxpayer was about $31,940 in 2012, about $260 less than it was in 1980 after adjusting for inflation.[3] Although as a group the entire 1 percent has done fabulously well over the past three decades, the income gains by a tiny sliver at the top of the top of the heap dwarf even the rest of the top 1 percent. To be among the 1,600 households that comprise Oregon’s top one-tenth of 1 percent, a taxpayer had to make at least $1.4 million in 2012.The average income of the top one-tenth of 1 percent, the wealthiest 1 out of every 1,000 Oregon taxpayers, stood at over $3.9 million in 2012. That was over four-and-a-half times the inflation-adjusted amount of about $848,000 in 1980. Over the same period, the rest of the top 1 percent saw their average income more than double, from about $275,000 to about $581,000.[4] Income inequality spiked again in 2012 after narrowing during the recession. That year, after taking inflation into account, Oregon’s median income (the income for the “typical” Oregonian) inched up $300 — an increase of less than 1 percent. Over that same year, the income of the average taxpayer grew by $3,068, or 6 percent. Meanwhile, the average income of the top 1 percent jumped nearly $200,000, about a 29 percent increase.[5] The sizeable increase at the top of the income scale may be due to the wealthy cashing out capital gains in 2012 ahead of anticipated federal tax changes.[6] Net capital gains income increased about 72 percent from 2011 to 2012. The concentration of capital gains income among the wealthy contributes to income inequality. Capital gains income comes from the profitable sale of assets such as stocks, bonds and real estate. In 2012, the top one-tenth of 1 percent — the wealthiest 1 out of every 1,000 Oregon taxpayers — collected about half (49 percent) of all capital gains income. The rest of the top 1 percent took in another 23 percent. Together, the entire top 1 percent collected 72 percent of all capital gains income in Oregon. The rest of Oregon taxpayers shared the remaining 28 percent.[7] Put another way, the 1,600 hundred tax filers who comprise the top one-tenth of 1 percent together took in over $1 billion more in capital gains than the 1.6 million taxpayers who constitute the bottom 99 percent. Wages — income earned from work — also help explain growth in income inequality. High-wage workers have seen their paychecks grow, while median and low-wage workers have not.[8] The hourly wage of high-wage workers rose from $25.56 in 1980 to $29.09 in 2013, when adjusted for inflation. Over the same time period wages have stagnated, or fallen, for other groups of Oregon workers. For example, in 2013 the median, or typical, hourly wage was $16.71 — below the $17.28 inflation-adjusted median wage more than 30 years earlier. Similarly, low-wage workers earned just $10.19 per hour in 2013, less than the $11.04 they made in 1980 in inflation-adjusted terms. Over the past three decades, the income share of the wealthiest 1 percent of Oregon grew to more than double the share of the bottom 40 percent.[9] In 1980, the bottom 40 percent of Oregon taxpayers together collected 10.1 percent of all income, while the top 1 percent together collected 7.4 percent. But by 2012, the share of all income of the bottom 40 percent had dropped to 7.6 percent, while the share of the top 1 percent had risen to 15.9 percent. Thus, in 2012 the top 1 percent took home more than two times the income that the 700,000 taxpayers at the bottom of the income ladder did. In dollars, that was $8.5 billion more. Oregon’s wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers have seen their slice of total state income more than double over the last 30 years, while the slices of nearly all other income groups have shrunk. Specifically, the share of total state income collected by the top 1 percent increased by 115 percent from 1980 to 2012. The only other group to have gained total income share was the rest of the top 20 percent (the top fifth excluding the top 1 percent), which ticked up 3.7 percent. As the share of total income rises for some, it necessarily declines for others. From 1980 to 2012, the bottom 80 percent of Oregon taxpayers saw their income share decline. That was especially the case for the lowest-earning 20 percent, who lost almost a third of their income share over the course of the last three decades.[10] Conclusion After narrowing during the Great Recession years, income inequality in Oregon snapped back in 2012. The wealthiest 1 percent — especially the 1,600 households that comprise the top one-tenth of 1 percent — made huge gains in income that year, while the income of the typical Oregonian only inched up. President Barack Obama has declared income inequality the “defining challenge of our time.”[11] In Oregon, as in the rest of the nation, that challenge is real. [1] Uniform Gross State Product (GSP) data from the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) dates back only to 1997. But while state-level BEA data does not allow for confident comparison of the pre-1997 period, BEA’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data shows that the national economy has expanded fairly steadily over the course of the past three decades, even if interrupted by intervening recessions. Specifically, U.S. GDP more than doubled over the last 30 years (see data available at http://bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp); and since 1997, Oregon’s GSP has tended to outperform growth in national GDP during economic expansions (see Oregon Center for Public Policy, If Economic Growth Assured Well-Being, Oregonians Would be Thriving, Fact Sheet, April 30, 2014. [2] Unless otherwise noted, income figures in this publication are OCPP calculations based on Oregon Department of Revenue data and income is adjusted gross income data for all income tax filers. [3] Oregon’s 1980 median income was $32,200 in 2012 dollars. [4] Calculations for top one-tenth of 1 percent and the rest of the top 1 percent are based on total income for full-year returns. [5] The tremendous income gains at the top help explain why the average Oregonian’s income increased more than the typical Oregonian. [6] Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast, March 2014, p. 5. [7] Calculations for capital gains income are based on total income for full-year income tax filers. Some portion of the increase in capital gains income in 2012 can be attributed to people pulling capital gains income into the 2012 tax year due to anticipated changes in the federal tax code, Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast, March 2014, p. 5. [8] Here, wage levels correspond to percentiles. “High-wage” refers to the 80th percentile, meaning the worker whose wages were higher than 80 percent of all workers (and lower than 20 percent of all workers). “Median” refers to the worker in the 50th percentile, with half of Oregon workers earning more and half earning less. And “low-wage” refers to the 20th percentile, meaning the worker whose wages are higher than 20 percent of all workers (and lower than 80 percent of all workers). [9] Tax returns with negative adjusted gross income have been excluded. [10] Ibid. [11] Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility,” December 4, 2013, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/12/04/remarks-president-economic-mobility. Posted in Income, Oregon Economy, Wages. More about: capital gains, income inequality, median income, state of working oregon – See more at: http://www.ocpp.org/2014/04/30/fs2010430-economic-gains-Flow-top-oregon-income/#sthash.u7jLVM6q.dpuf

IMPORTANT! Turn in Oregon ERA Signatures Today (Tomorrow at the Latest)

IMPORTANT!  Turn in Oregon ERA Signatures Today (Tomorrow at the Latest)

IMPORTANT! We need you to continue collecting ERA signatures, but please turn in all ERA petitions you have that already have signatures on them NOW. And, don’t forget to sign and complete the bottom of the petition as “Circulator” before mailing. Mail to: VoteERA.org, 25 NW 23rd Place, Suite 6, PMB 482, Portland, OR 97210. Thank you & keep getting signatures; we are almost there and can make it with your help!

June 4 is the 95th Anniversary of Congress Passing the 19th Amendment

June 4 is the 95th Anniversary of Congress Passing the 19th Amendment

On June 4, 1919 Congress passed the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. The Amendment was then sent to the states for ratification. It took a little over a year to be ratified on August 18, 1920.

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has not faired so well. Originally written in 1923 by Alice Paul and first introduced in Congress in 1923, it did not pass both houses of Congress and go to the states for ratification until 1972. It is still three (3) states short of ratification.

We have a chance in 2014 to at least pass a state ERA in Oregon that would grant women express equal rights in the Oregon Constitution. Please do what you can to help! VoteERA.org!