Here are some not-so-great numbers out of the state of Michigan: more than 93,000 residents reported incidents of domestic violence in 2013, and 46,460 of those people were under the age of 30. Think that's scary? There's more:
66, 628 of the victims were women, and 65,460 of the offenders were men.
40, 772 of the assaults were perpetrated by someone who was or still is in an intimate relationship with the victim.
43,152 of the reported assaults involved a "personal weapon."
Now there's a proposed bill that would take away some of victims' core protections. Senate Bill 789 has received legislative approval and is on the desk of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. The bill deals with various gun issues, including a section that allows domestic abusers -- including those with restraining orders against them -- to get not only guns, but to get concealed pistol permits, which means they could hide a pistol on their body so that no one else could see it or know it’s there.
The bill essentially means you could no longer deny someone a concealed carry permit just on the grounds that they're an abuser.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) worked on the bill with State Sen. Mike Green, who sponsored it. “People that don’t like the bill are going to find one little tiny thing about it and then they’re going to complain,” Green said.
Some of the language in the bill is very concerning for domestic abuse advocates, who are aware of the high number of gun fatalities involved in domestic violence situations. The NRA’s response was that victims could get their own guns for protection and that they “will allow victims of domestic violence who have petitioned the court system for a personal protection order to receive a temporary, emergency concealed pistol license for self-defense.”
David Frank, an attorney for Blue Water Safe Horizons, a nonprofit in Port Huron, Michigan, that helps survivors of domestic violence and provides a women’s shelter, is alarmed by the part of the bill that deals with domestic abusers being able to get concealed pistol permits. We spoke to Frank about his thoughts on the bill and why it should be stopped.
MTV: What are the facts around gun violence in relation to domestic violence?
Frank: Anytime there’s a firearm or a weapon in this situation, that pretty much heightens the danger to the survivor. Introducing dangerous weapons and firearms into an already abusive and potentially explosive situation is inconceivable. I think supporters of this specific provision don’t simply understand the danger that they are placing survivors of violence and assault in.
MTV: What are the realities of domestic violence in Michigan?
Frank: I don’t have the specific statistics, but I work with survivors of domestic violence every day. We work with hundreds of survivors. We have people calling every day asking when we will have an opening in our women’s shelter.
MTV: How can people support those impacted by domestic violence?
Frank: Listen to survivors and believe them. Let them make the decisions and take them seriously. The incidence of reporting is very low, so if someone tells you they’re in a domestic violence situation or they’ve been sexually assaulted, they are telling the truth. However they want to proceed, however they want to be made safe, support that decision.
MTV: If people want to join you in asking Michigan Gov. Snyder to veto this, what can they do?
Frank: They can certainly contact the governor and ask him to veto the bill, based on this misguided provision. Even if you are someone who supports the Second Amendment and gun rights, I think you’d oppose putting firearms in the hands of people who pose a danger to survivors of domestic violence.
I would say contact the governor’s office directly. It’s on his desk. There are people on the other side, saying, “What’s the big deal?” And so that question needs to be answered. We need to contact the governor to say, “The big deal is this bill is removing a core protection for survivors of domestic violence.”
The governor is expected to make his decision this week.
To learn more about intimate partner violence, visit LoveIsRespect.org