Now more than ever before, the topic of gun reform has been at the forefront of political activism. Though we have yet to make real strides to prevent another school shooting like the one in Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day 2018, a small victory over gun violence has just been made. On March 31, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York is banning domestic abusers from owning or buying guns.
Cuomo announced in a press release that the state of New York had passed new legislation that will take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. The legislation closes a number of major loopholes: Previously, convicted domestic abusers were only prohibited from possessing handguns, but this new legislations closes that loophole and prevents convicted abusers from owning all firearms. This law also expands the types of crimes which would preclude someone from buying a firearm to include "serious" misdemeanors. Lastly, the new legislation closed a loophole which allowed individuals wanted on felony charges to get a gun license — even while police were looking to arrest them.
In his statement, Cuomo pointed out that many perpetrators of mass shootings have a history of domestic violence, and called out the federal government for failing to act in the wake of the "recent waves of mass shooting." The governor also made it clear that with common sense gun reform, New York is breaking the connection between gun violence and domestic violence. He said,
The recent wave of mass shootings is horrifying, and the federal government's failure to act on any form of meaningful gun safety laws is unconscionable. New York is once again leading the way to prevent gun violence, and with this common sense reform, break the inextricable link between gun violence and domestic violence. This legislation builds on our gun laws — already the strongest in the nation — to make New York safer and stronger.
Women are particularly at risk from the connection between gun violence and domestic violence. According to a 2017 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of women killed in the United States, or 55 percent, were killed in relation to intimate partner violence. Firearms were used in 53.9 percent of the killings. And according to gun safety advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, American women are 11 times more likely to die from gun violence than women in other high-income countries. Everytown also notes that in the 18 states that require background checks for all handgun purchases, "46 percent fewer women are shot and killed by intimate partners" than the states that don't require background checks.
There have been federal laws preventing domestic abusers from owning guns since 1996, however they left a lot of loopholes open. For instance, federal law limits the definition of a banned domestic abuser to someone who has been married to or lived with the person they were abusing or has a child with them — which leaves abusive partners who have their own place, as well as stalkers, able to legally get a gun.
In banning convicted domestic abusers from purchasing and owning guns, New York is joining 26 other states and Washington, D.C. The move may even be part of a trend: in February, Oregon passed legislation banning people convicted of stalking and domestic violence or who are under restraining orders from owning or purchasing firearms or ammunition. Oregon was the first state to advance gun reform following the Parkland shooting, according to USA Today.
The road to fully-comprehensive gun reform is still a ways away, but New York is definitely joining the side of progression. Hopefully, the debate over gun control doesn't go away, and the government makes big strides to keep people safe from gun violence.