Hearing Tamar: The Role of Guns in Domestic Violence | Sojourners

Hearing Tamar: The Role of Guns in Domestic Violence

Keys, a Bible, and a gun. Image courtesy Jorge R. Gonzalez/shutterstock.com.
Keys, a Bible, and a gun. Image courtesy Jorge R. Gonzalez/shutterstock.com.

In the Old Testament book of Samuel, we find a young man named Amnon so “desperately in love and obsessed” with his half-sister Tamar that he fakes illness in order to lure Tamar to his bedchamber. Once Amnon and Tamar are alone, he demands her to come to bed and she cries out in denial. Scripture continues, “Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her.” (2 Sam. 13)

It is frightening to consider that within the context of violence against women, little has progressed since the time of the Old Testament. Currently, 1-in-3 U.S. women will experience intimate partner violence throughout her lifetime. Even more frightening is that every month, 46 women are killed by an intimate partner with a gun.

Americans across partisan, personal, and religious lines are divided on the role of the Second Amendment in the public square. Yet no matter ones’ stance on gun control procedures, one fact transcends opinion: women are at a higher risk for intimate partner gun violence than men.

From 2001 through 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in the United States by an intimate partner using a gun — more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. The rate at which domestic violence turns to murder is a harsh reality — and when a domestic abuser has a gun, a victim is 12 times more likely to die than when the abuser doesn’t.

Over 20 years ago, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which protected many women from the harms of domestic violence and denied those with domestic abuse convictions to purchase guns. However, years later loopholes still exist that allow dating partners with backgrounds of stalking, restraining orders, and abuse to legally purchase and possess firearms. With the current VAWA legislation, women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than are women in other high-income countries. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has introduced a bill into Congress that will prevent stalkers and abusers from buying and possessing guns.

“Convicted stalkers and non-married, non-cohabiting dating partners who commit domestic abuse, are not included in U.S. gun restrictions relating to domestic violence,” a recent Huffington Post article reported on the bill.  

Senator Klobuchar’s bill (S.1290) will plug loopholes in current legislation in order to protect a broader range of victims of domestic abuse and will deny over 11,986 convicted stalkers the right to purchase a gun.

October is Domestic Violence awareness month. As we look back through history and Scripture, violence against women is unfortunately a common thread. How much longer can we be silent as women are dying?Supporting legislative reform S.1290 is one way to stand up against the continued threat of violence women face daily.

In Scripture, we see Amnon’s desperation for Tamar building overtime as he plots his strategy for intimate interaction. In the current form of the Violence Against Women Act, there is nothing to stop those who plot and stalk intimate partners, like Amnon, from purchasing a legal firearm. As Christians, we must listen to the cry of Tamar and act now to protect women from intimate partner violence.    

Kaeley McEvoy is Campaigns Assistant for Sojourners.

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