No More Names

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After Congress did nothing after the Newtown, CT Sandy Hook school shooting massacre, more than 950 mayors and 1.5 million grassroots supporters of Mayors Against Illegal Guns launched No More Names: The Drive to Reduce Gun Violence. The No More Names bus tour is travelling to 25 states in 100 days to make sure Congress can’t ignore the overwhelming majority of Americans calling for common-sense gun laws. One of the stops was Helena, MT where Montana NOW State President Marian Pesta Bradley spoke:

Hello, I am Marian Bradley, Montana State President of the National Organization for Women. Aurora CO was home to my family for years. Our son graduated high school with the shooter in the Chuck E Cheese shooting, friends and coworkers had children at Columbine and my children went to local theaters in Aurora regularly. I never want to have the horror of a mass shooting happen here in Montana. It changes the complexion of communities so dramatically. That is why I am so privileged to be here speaking on behalf of the women and families who are so affected by gun violence both here in Montana and throughout this country.

When Newtown happened a nation woke up saying there should be No More Names and that is so true.

However, we need to remember that gun violence deaths don’t only occur in the mass shootings that have awakened our nations conscience. What about the names of the women living in the house next door to you, or down the street, or in your church and communities who are victims of an intimate partner shooting. What about the children who witness these shootings or are in some cases casualties of the shooting themselves. They need to be remembered and protected.

The cross between firearms violence and sexual and domestic violence cannot be overstated. More than half of the women murdered with guns in the US are killed by intimate partners and more than half of mass shootings in the US are acts of family or domestic violence. Women in the U.S. Are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than in any other high income country.

When a gun is used in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide for a women increases by 500%. Think about that number!

The argument from Senator Baucus and others is that MT has less homicides than other states and legislation should focus on other states with more gun related homicides. How much higher does our rate of gun violence have to be Senator Baucus? Montana is already the 3rd deadliest state based on per 100,000 population.

In 2011 firearm deaths in MT were 16.58 as compared with 10.26 in the US. Domestic violence gun murders are almost 150% higher in MT than in other states, 10.15 in MT, 4.11 nationally.

Of the 112 recent homicide deaths in MT, 65% or 73 deaths were intimate partner homicides and of those 73, 57 were killed by guns.

In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are 38% fewer women shot to death by intimate partners. Here in MT that would have saved the lives of 22 women. Those 22 women would be here to provide love and support to their family, their children and their communities.

Further, federal firearms law prohibits persons subject to qualifying protection orders from possessing, transferring or purchasing a firearm for the duration of the order. The individuals named in the protection order can avoid a background check by purchasing guns from unlicensed private sellers at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions. The legislation for background checks recently proposed in the Senate would have closed this loophole and protected Montanan women and families. Background checks have already prevented more than 250,000 gun sales to domestic abusers, but in 2012 alone 6.6 million guns were exchanged in private transfers without a criminal background check. Senator Baucus voted against legislation that would allow for background checks. However, Senator Baucus has said he and others want to be able to sell a gun to their neighbor. We want to know how the Senator knows his neighbor does not have a history of domestic violence or a protection order against them. Does Senator Baucus run his own background check? I sincerely doubt it!

Just the other day I was contacted by a woman who had a good friend killed in the Aurora Theatre shooting. She is a gun owner, an NRA member and a 2nd Amendment supporter. Here is what she said in part:

I believe in a mandatory training prior to being able to buy any firearm. Once bought I believe they should have a yearly refresher course/ I believe there should be a registry of all people arrested for domestic violence, child abuse or animal abuse and that they be permanently banned from ever owning a firearm. I believe that there should be a serious look at the influx of guns coming across the border tied to the drug trades. I believe in background checks and mandatory waiting periods.

Our families MUST be protected and it is our responsibility to insist on that protection.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senator Jon Tester for his continued support of women and families in Montana and for his vote for common sense gun safety and I ask Senator Max Baucus to follow the lead of Senator Tester and do what is right for Montana women and families and vote for common sense gun safety.

In closing, We as a country and as a state cannot afford to lose so many women and children to intimate partner deaths. There can be no more names added to the list of deaths in these situations. Therefore, we stand with the women and children who are victims of intimate partner shootings in increasing numbers and with the families, victims and survivors of all these senseless mass shootings AND we are not going away!! These murders have to stop NOW.