As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep people in their homes, experts and police are increasingly worried about increases in domestic violence. On Tuesday, a report showed domestic violence calls have jumped 22 percent in Kansas City under stay-at-home orders. This rise comes as advocates across the state raise concerns about women and families being forced to quarantine with their abusers.
Missouri has seen a rise in gun sales: the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) found that the number of background checks conducted in the state during March 2020 was 48 percent higher than in March 2019.
“As shelter in place continues, risks of domestic violence rise,” said Leslie Washington, a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action and member of the Everytown Survivor Fellow who was threatened with a gun by her abuser. “When lawmakers return to the statehouse, they should take action to better protect Missouri women and children.”
This legislative session, Missouri lawmakers had the opportunity to pass bills to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Similar policies have been proven to prevent gun violence in other states and could have protected women and families during this high risk time. Even after over 400 Missouri Moms Demand Action volunteers advocated for legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, lawmakers failed to schedule even one hearing on any of the five bills that would protect Missouri communities.
Instead, lawmakers spent the legislative session advancing bills that would make it illegal for Missouri state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of federal public safety laws, and several bills to allow more guns in public spaces. While the bills are in various stages in the legislature, some have advanced as far as the House floor and could be voted on when the legislature reconvenes.
Last summer, Governor Parson announced his support for gun safety legislation that would prohibit domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Yet Missouri lawmakers have not made strides to pass a domestic violence bill, and Governor Parson has since reversed his position.
Here’s more on domestic violence in Missouri:
- Missouri is experiencing an increase in domestic violence calls during coronavirus as women and families are forced to quarantine with abusers. And amid COVID-19 closures, the risk of domestic violence among families in isolation continues to grow.
- Domestic violence and gun violence are inextricably linked. Every month, an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner in the United States. Nearly 1 million women alive today have reported being shot or shot at by an intimate partner, and 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun. When a domestic abuser has access to a gun, they are five times more likely to kill their victim.
- From 2014 to 2018, 99 women were fatally shot by an intimate partner in Missouri. Nationally, women of color are victims of homicide at higher rates than white women, and over 55 percent of these killings are committed by an intimate partner.
- Over 1100 Missourians are shot and killed every year, giving Missouri the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. The rate of gun deaths in Missouri increased 56 percent in the last decade, compared to an 18 percent increase nationwide.
More information about domestic violence legislation available here. Statistics about gun violence in Missouri are available here, and information on how Missouri’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.