Let’s get real: Gun control is about protecting domestic violence victims like Kasandra Perkins

By Kay Steiger
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 13:41 EDT
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Kasandra Perkins and Jovan Belcher via ABC News & YouTube
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Kasandra Perkins was murdered on Saturday by her NFL linebacker boyfriend Jovan Belcher. Murdered. He then drove to the football stadium where he took his own life in front of his coach and general manager. While this came to a shock to many, it should have come to no surprise to the Kansas City Chiefs, who were so aware of the couple’s problems that they reportedly “bent over backward” to pay for counseling.

It should not be a surprise to those who know that somewhere between 1,000 and 1,600 women die every year at the hands of their intimate partners. And that doesn’t include the roughly 22 percent of the 6,000 women every year who commit suicide every year in the United states and who have at least one documented case of domestic violence.

Everyone is busy patting NBC’s Bob Costas on the back for reading from Jason Whitlock’s Fox Sports column on how we should maybe, possibly begin thinking about controlling people’s access to guns — or at the very least postpone a football game — but in the meantime more women are sure to die from gun violence at the hands of their partners.

In 2010, the Department of Justice convened a round table on “familicide,” the all-too-common occurrence in which a family member takes the life of a loved one. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University looked at 408 murder-suicide cases and found that almost all (91 percent) were men. It also found that a gun was involved in 88 percent of cases. A similar study of 591 cases found that a gun was involved in 92 percent of murder-suicide cases. A 12-city study of homicide-suicide cases found intimate-partner violence occurred in 70 percent of them — though arrest records reflected domestic violence in only 25 percent of cases (a sign that our mostly male police force is willing to side with men and won’t call violence what it is when it happens between intimate partners).

And a comparative study of murder-suicide cases in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States published in Forensic Science International found that “homicide-suicides are more likely than other types of lethal violence to involve a female victim, multiple victims, take place in a residential setting and to be committed by a firearm.” The researchers conclude that the these types of crimes are much more likely to occur in a country where firearms are more readily available.

In other words, access to guns makes it easier for men to kill women that they supposedly love.

So if we can’t budge on gun control when it comes to the rare-but-horrific mass shootings, or when it comes to Chicago’s gang war which sparked an increase of deaths by 60 percent in the first three months of the year, or when it comes to a promising young politician’s career ending when a mentally disturbed man shot her in the head, what hope do the voiceless victims of domestic violence have?

Let’s stop pretending opposition to gun control is about protecting the dwindling number of hunters in the country and get real about the fact that it could save thousands of innocent victims at the hands of their partners.

Because if you can listen to this frantic 911 call from Belcher’s mother and not want to do something about the horrific violence that happens to women every year, then women like Kasandra really have no hope.

Photo: Screenshot of ABC News report.

Correction: This story originally said the voice in the 911 call was Perkins’ mother. 

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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