Study Tracks Gun Deaths in Domestic Violence Incidents
Some 4.5 million American women are threatened with a gun by their intimate partners each year. That’s one and a half times the total population of Nevada.
According to a recent state report, there were 20 domestic violence incidents last year that resulted in 29 deaths. Of those, 52 percent were due to gunshot wounds.
Someone who once found herself at this intersection of domestic violence and gun violence, and survived, is Gloria Corder.
It was 30 years ago when she was married to her first husband and living in Georgia.
Corder doesn't remember what exactly set him off but he started beating her. Not long after, he pulled out a handgun that she didn't know he had purchased.
“At one point, I found myself with a weapon pointed at my temple and knew that that was going to be the moment that ended it," she said, "Luckily for me, my children who had been playing up the street decided to come home at that moment. The sound of them coming through the front door caught him off guard and my fight or flight just kicked in at that moment."
Corder said he left the room and she ran to the kitchen to get a knife. They started fighting again, and eventually, they made it outside. A neighbor saw them and called the police.
After 10 years of being hit, it was a gun to her head that made her decide to leave for good.
“To me, it ensured that I was going to die at some point if I stayed,” she said.
Corder now speaks up about what happened to her in hopes of letting women in the same situation know they can get out.
“I know there are so many women who are in this situation who suffer from a sense of hopelessness that there’s no way out, but there is. I’m proof of that,” she said.
Lisa Chapman with the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic Violence told KNPR's State of Nevada that, unfortunately, Corder's story is not a unique one - especially in Nevada.
The state has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country and having a gun in the home increases the chance that such violence will become lethal.
“It increases the lethality about 500 percent,” Chapman said.
Chapman said the number of women in Nevada killed by their intimate partners fluctuates but on average about 20 women a year are killed by their partners.
“I can’t say that it is getting better. I can’t say that it is getting worse. Unfortunately, it is all too common,” she said.
Elizabeth Becker with Moms Demand Action said there are gun policies that could help, including the background check initiative that was passed by the voters in 2016.
Citizens voted 'yes' but the law was never implemented because the initiative required the checks go through the federal data banks. Attorney General Adam Laxalt said that could not be done.
Chapman said people who know they're not allowed to have a gun, such people convicted of domestic violence, can go to a private dealer to get a weapon.
“So essentially what’s happening is, they skirt around this, and there is no mechanism to enforce these laws on the federal level,” she said.
And Chapman said the data shows that better background checks save lives.
“When universal background checks are in place, domestic violence homicides drop by about 30 percent," she said.
Both Chapman and Becker are hopeful the new attorney general and the new governor of Nevada will find a way to implement the background check that voters approved. Both Attorney General-elect Aaron Ford and Governor-elect Steve Sisolak have said they support the background check law.
Beyond the background check, Becker would like to see a red flag law in place, similar to laws in eight other states.
“What that says is, if someone in a family or even a police officer knows that someone is a threat to themselves or others, (law enforcement) can take weapons first before there is a court date then they can set a court date,” she explained.
A red flag bill was introduced in the 2017 Legislature but it didn't make it out of committee. Becker is hopeful a similar bill will get somewhere this coming legislative session.
If you're experiencing domestic violence, contact:
SafeNest at 702-646-4981
Shade Tree 702-385-0072
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
Gloria Corder, domestic gun violence survivor; Lisa Chapman, NV Coalition to End Domestic Violence; Elizabeth Becker, Moms Demand Action