Under the new law, those convicted of domestic abuse will be forced to turn over all firearms in their possession, including rifles, shotguns, handguns, and assault weapons. Cuomo said in a press release that “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.” These convictions include felony abuse and “serious” misdemeanor crimes.
Cuomo makes an excellent point: women in violent relationships are at high risk of gun-related homicide. Last year, we reported sobering domestic violence statistics, including a 2011 FBI report which found that 53% of women who died from gunshots were killed by their partner or a family member. Let’s parse that out: women killed from gun violence were murdered by an abusive partner over half the time.
This new law will save the lives of abuse victims, but it may prevent mass shootings from occuring as well. There is an inextricable link between domestic abuse and mass shootings; violent people who choose to shoot many people in a public area often begin their violence in the home. Last year, NPR reported that 54% of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 were carried out by someone who had previously committed domestic abuse. If guns are removed from domestic abusers, they are less likely to kill their partner and commit a mass shooting. It’s clear that Cuomo sees this link, and signed the bill into law partly as a reaction from what he sees as federal inaction on gun restriction. “The recent wave of mass shootings is horrifying,” said Cuomo, “and the federal government's failure to act on any form of meaningful gun safety laws is unconscionable.”
There are a few caveats to note. First, this law applies only to those convicted of domestic violence, and we know anecdotally that many victims do not report their abuse. And for those who do report their abuse, victims can face sluggish responses from law enforcement, if they are believed to begin with.
Still, New York state has some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation, and consequently, it has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the nation. A recent USA Today report, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ranked New York the 48th state out of 50 for gun violence, a remarkable statistic for the second most-populous state in the country.
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