To: Virginia State Crime Commission
Re: Gun Bills
From: Virginia Chapter, National Organization for Women (NOW), Marjorie Signer, Legislative Vice-President
These comments about the issue of gun violence as it impacts women are submitted on behalf of the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), a membership organization with local chapters throughout the Commonwealth working to bring women into full participation in society and promote awareness of issues that impact women economically, legally, socially, and personally. Gun violence is heavily intertwined with the issue of domestic and intimate partner violence ― and women are the most affected population of this lethal combination. Virginia NOW supports extreme risk protection bills (ERPO), also called “red flag laws,” that have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly, including but not limited to HB4003.
Data about guns in domestic situations include:
80 percent of people killed by firearms annually in the U.S. by intimate partners are women.
A domestic violence victim is 5 times more likely to be killed if her partner owns a gun.
Laws that prohibit firearms after a domestic violence restraining order is issued are associated with a 13% decrease in firearm intimate partner homicides.
A red-flag law is a policy to allow family members to ask a judge to temporarily prevent someone from having firearms if they are concerned that the person is at risk of committing violence. According to Giffords Law Center, extreme risk protection orders are designed to temporarily keep guns away from people who are at a high risk of committing violence. Accordingly, these laws are often referred to as “risk-based removal” laws. To determine a person’s level of risk, states often require or authorize courts to consider certain types of evidence that research has demonstrated indicates a person is at an elevated risk of committing violence.
We respectfully ask legislators to consider this type of legislation, which has been adopted by 17 states and the District of Columbia. It allows for greater safety for women (as well as all people) and maintains Second Amendment rights.
Marjorie Signer, Legislative Vice-President
Virginia Chapter, National Organization for Women