Stop The Violence Foundation Youth Center

The Corpus Christi church in Buffalo wants to make the most out of additional buildings it runs, and one building that seems to have the most promise is an older athletic center.

The athletic center on Sears Street boasts an indoor basketball court and a bowling alley.

Church leaders are now working with a group called the Stop the Violence Foundation to see how they can work together at reducing violence in Buffalo.

One idea, for example, came from Bishop Perry Davis, who suggested a Hoops for Peace tournament in February.

“You don’t want to change the minds of the kids, but you want to give a kid somewhere to go and something to do,”
he said. “That’s going to keep them off the streets. That’s going to keep their minds occupied, and that will hopefully save lives with what we’re doing here.”

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Mike Weisser: Why Concealed Carry Is Little More Than A Gun Industry Marketing Scam

If you want to check out one of the truly great internet marketing scams, take a look at the website of the Concealed Carry Association of America, an outfit started by a guy named Tim Schmidt who developed something called ‘tribal marketing’ which entices people to join (and spend money) on websites promoting the idea that membership is a very special kind of thing.  And what’s more special than believing you’re fulfilling God’s work by walking around armed? Tim’s CCAA website gets a membership ‘retention’ rate three times longer than the average membership website, and the longer the members hang around, the more they’ll spend.

And believe me, there’s plenty to buy, including books, videos, clothing, gifts and novelty items, and all sorts of other stuff. Next month you can go down to Fort Worth and enjoy a fun-filled three days at the annual CCAA trade show, which includes a live-fire range where you can bang away with real guns and a guest appearance by none other than the prancing master, Colion Noir.

When I say that CCAA is a ‘scam,’ it’s not because you don’t get anything for your membership fee.  To the contrary, you get a slick magazine, a pretty decent personal liability insurance policy, a newsletter and, of course, a nice decal to stick on the window of your car. But no matter what CCAA gives you for joining, the real reason it’s a scam is because there’s simply no truth (as in none) that walking around with a gun makes you safe.  I didn’t say that you might be a little safer; I didn’t say there was a chance that carrying a gun made you safe, I said there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that you will be safe or safer if you carry a gun.

I know, I know, examples abound about all these armed citizens who pulled out a gun and chased the bad guy away. There’s only one little problem; all these armed citizens who engaged in what we call defense gun use (DGU) don’t really exist. Gun-nut Nation still cites Gary Kleck’s 1993 survey conducted which pegged yearly DGU’s at maybe 2 million and maybe more.  Funny, but the same folks who promote this survey never seem to mention the study Kleck published in 2004 where he couldn’t find any difference in outcomes for resisting crime by crime victims who didn’t use guns.

If you want to attempt a serious and honest look at whether guns keep us all that safe, I suggest you take a look at the article just published by Julie Mack, who interviewed law enforcement officials in Michigan’s 15 most populated counties asking them whether they knew of any DGUs in their jurisdictions, and “most officials could not cite a single incident in their jurisdiction within the past 12 months.” Now this doesn’t mean that the cops are necessarily opposed to concealed carry (CCW); in fact Detroit’s chief, James Craig, is an outspoken and ardent supporter both of CCW and of Donald Trump. But being in favor of CCW  and knowing that an armed citizen prevented a crime just aren’t the same.  

Undaunted by their inability to actually validate the ‘widespread’ occurrence of DGUs, Gun-nut Nation has fallen back on the notion that the increase in CCW licenses, estimated at roughly 14 million nationwide, has been a significant factor in the continued decline of violent crime. Once again, the research shows that this rationale for spreading the gospel of concealed-carry simply isn’t true.

Want to play cowboy, walk around with a gun and pretend you’re in Dodge City, you go right ahead. But Dodge City experienced, at best, two murders each year and Dodge City banned guns in the 1870s, a law that was strictly enforced by lawmen like Wyatt Earp. I don’t know a single man, including myself, who didn’t have a Roy Rogers revolver when he was a kid. But I grew up and some of my Gun-nut friends might think of growing up too.

Cops Fire Into Stolen Car, Killing 16-Year-Old Pregnant Teen

Police in Northern California fired into a stolen car on Tuesday, killing a pregnant teenager who was in the vehicle.

Elena Mondragon, 16, was fatally shot while in the vehicle with three others. The car, which was reported stolen, had been connected to armed robberies in the Bay Area, KTVU reported. 

Officers with the Fremont Police Department cornered the car in an apartment complex and attempted to stop it. That’s when the male driver of the vehicle rammed into police cars, injuring two detectives, authorities told the press. During the incident, the two detectives fired at the car, hitting and killing Elena. She was in her first trimester, according to the coroner.  

“The female suffering from the gunshot wounds and was treated by the Hayward Fire Department at the scene and transported to a near-by trauma center where she succumbed to her injuries,” the Fremont Police Department said in a statement.

The male driver escaped on foot but was arrested Wednesday in San Fransisco in connection to the robberies. Police have not identified him. 

GoFundMe

Elena Mondragon was in her first trimester when she was fatally shot by police.

“She was only 16,” the teen’s uncle, Miguel Minjares, told KRON4. “It’s not the same knowing she’s not going to be here tomorrow.”

Mondragon was described as a “witty, fun loving girl” in a GoFundMe page set up by Minjares. The family is asking for help to cover the cost of her funeral expenses.

“Her single mother does not have means or frame of mind to handle these details,” Minjares wrote on the account.

In December, the San Francisco police union filed a lawsuit against the city to block a policy that prohibits shooting at moving vehicles. The union argued that there should be exceptions to shooting at a vehicle if it is being used as a weapon.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice recommends that police departments institute policies prohibiting officers from shooting into moving vehicles, noting it’s not an effective tactic to stop a car that is driving toward an officer.

In 2015, the Denver Police Department changed its policy on shooting at moving vehicles after two officers shot and killed a 17-year-old girl they said drove a car towards them. The local district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the officers involved, but the policy now prohibits officers from shooting at moving cars unless someone inside the vehicle is firing at them.

The shooting will be investigated by the Hayward Police Department and Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Three Injured At Shooting At French School

At least three people were injured after a shooting at a high school in the small southern French town of Grasse, and a 17-year old student carrying a rifle, handguns and grenades was arrested, the interior ministry and police sources added.

“The individual does not seem to be known by police,” one police source said.

A second source said it appeared that two students had opened fire on the headmaster, who had been injured, adding that the suspects did not seem to be militants.

“One of the two was arrested and the second fled. There was panic and the students took refuge in the (neighboring) supermarket,” said the source.

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told France Inter radio that three people had been injured, and advised families to remain patient as police took control to stabilize the situation. He had earlier told BFM TV eight were injured.

He said checks were underway on the possibility of a second assailant.

The incident comes with France in a state of emergency after several militants attacks over the last year. It is less than six weeks away from a presidential election in which security and fears of terrorism are among key issues.

An eye-witness student in the school interviewed by France Inter radio said the students had heard a bang and taken cover under the tables.

“I went to close the windows and saw a guy who looked at me in the eyes. He seemed to be a student and not very big. He shot in the air and ran away,” the student said without giving his name.

Local emergency services advised residents on Twitter to stay at home. The government launched its mobile telephone application warning of a “terrorist” attack.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Sophie Louet, and John Irish; Editing by Adrian Croft and Sudip Kar-Gupta)

Previously Unreleased Video Of Mike Brown Raises New Questions In Ferguson Shooting

A documentary filmmaker has obtained previously unreleased surveillance footage that he said disproves the police narrative of the events that led to the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot to death by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in 2014.

Film director Jason Pollock debuted “Stranger Fruit,” a documentary that examines Brown’s story from his family’s perspective, at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin on Saturday. The film includes footage that Pollock said was suppressed by police ― a move that consequently fueled the characterization of Brown as a “thug.” 

Jim Young / Reuters

Michael Brown Sr. walks past the memorial set up where his son Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, Nov. 22, 2014.

Pollock’s video shows Brown trade what he says is marijuana for cigarillos with clerks at the Ferguson Market convenience store in the early morning hours before he was killed.

The video Pollock obtained, which was edited for the documentary, challenges the narrative police had long maintained: That Brown committed a strong-arm robbery of the store before the shooting and as a result, Ferguson officer Darren Wilson encountered Brown believing he was the robbery suspect.

The video specifically shows Brown giving the clerks a small bag, which they smell and inspect. Then, a clerk bags cigarillos and other items for Brown, but instead of leaving the store with the bag, Brown is seen handing the bag back to the clerk, who places it under the counter. 

The widely-seen second video, of the moments before the shooting, is Brown returning to collect his items, Pollock said. 

Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, said in the film the allegations of a strong-arm robbery at the store were a “misunderstanding.”

“These people know each other well enough that this is the kind of relationship they have,” she says.

St. Louis County Police, which investigated the incident between Wilson and Brown, said via email Sunday they have not authenticated the video on their own. 

In the film, Pollock said he saw a passing reference to early-morning video while browsing through SLCPD’s account of the investigation and questioned why it was not released. Ferguson police only released video from right before the shooting. 

Jay Kanzler, a St. Louis attorney representing the convenience store and its employees, disputed the documentary’s version of events and suggested the video Pollock obtained only further implicates Brown rather than absolves him.

“It’s just nonsense. It’s patently false, it didn’t happen that way,” Kanzler said of the video Sunday on MSNBC. “The clerks don’t smoke marijuana. They didn’t take the marijuana…maybe Michael Brown thought they would trade him cigarillos, but they didn’t.” 

Kanzler clarified that he didn’t know what was in the baggie that the clerks took from Brown, but said the only reason he returned the bag to the clerks was because he hadn’t paid for items. 

Pollock’s video is “neither new nor news,” Kanzler added. He suggested the video was not publicly released because it was “irrelevant” and that people sympathetic to Brown would have accused the police of “piling on” with unfavorable evidence had they shared it. 

Brown’s relatives maintain that the Ferguson Market convenience store had a history of being involved with local drug deals. 

Brown’s death quickly became one of the most socially and politically polarizing incidents of the past few years and sparked intense public debate about racism, police brutality and protesting.  

A grand jury ultimately declined to indict Wilson, who resigned shortly after. The following year, a Justice Department investigation concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Wilson with a civil rights violation. 

Brown’s family is still pursuing a civil suit for wrongful death.

“We had to do this so that people understand what really happened,” Pollock said Sunday while talking to reporters at SXSW. “Because people think all these ridiculous things about him ― that he was a thug. And he was not a thug, he just graduated from high school in a place were there was only 62 percent graduation rate. That means he was a rock star, and he beat all the odds, and he was murdered eight days after his graduation.” 

“We want people to understand what happened, and they’re going to.”

Escaped Female Polar-Brown Bear ‘Tips’ Shot Dead At German Zoo

A hybrid brown-polar bear who escaped her enclosure at a German zoo was shot dead while visitors huddled in safety in the monkey house.

The bear, a visitor favorite named Tips, busted through a fence at the Osnabrück Zoo in northern Germany on Saturday. A zoo keeper managed to coax Tips’ brother, Taps, back into this pen before he, too, could slip through the fence.

Tips passed the lions and was heading to the flamingo enclosure when she was shot. There were some 4,000 visitors at the zoo when she escaped. They were evacuated after Tips’ bold rush to freedom, after some were ushered to safety in nearby buildings, including the monkey house, reported Deutsche Welle, citing an article in the Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Officials said they opted not to use a tranquilizer gun on Tips because the sedative would have taken up to 20 minutes to take effect.

“We reacted immediately with the team; to protect visitors we had to shoot the animal,” the zoo’s business manager Andreas Busemann told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency.

Visitors and zoo officials were devastated by the killing. Tips and Taps were born 10 years ago to a brown bear and a polar bear, and have lived together ever since. They were a fascinating pair because they exhibited the behaviors of both brown bears and polar bears.

PETA expert Peter Höffken blasted the killing, saying that Tips “simply wanted to be free, and she paid for it with her life.” Local police said it had to be done to protect zoo visitors.

It was a bad bear week in Germany. Last Monday, Berlin’s beloved bear cub Fritz succumbed to a mysterious illness at the city’s Tierpark Zoo.

Mike Weisser: Obama Leaves Office And Gun Sales Collapse

Want to make a million in the gun business? Start with two million.  It’s an old joke but it has a ring of truth to it because even though guns have been selling like hot cakes since you-know-who moved into the White House in 2009, now that he’s moved out, everyone’s predicting that the gun business will slow down.  And the problem with the gun business is that it’s always been boom-or-bust, driven primarily by the possibility that we won’t be able to get our hands on any more guns.

So when Trump pulled off the unthinkable on November 8th, given the fact that he had made gun-control (or I should say, less gun control) a central feature of his campaign, it was clear that the mad rush to stockpile guns during the Obama regime would come to an end. How much of an end?  The numbers so far are much worse than what people thought might occur.

Before I get into the bad news (or the good news, depending on your point of view), I have to explain how to figure out how many guns are actually sold. Since more than 90 percent of the guns sold in the U.S. come from companies that are privately owned, we can’t get any kind of valid numbers from the gun makers themselves, but the FBI-NICS background check is extremely reliable for telling us how many new guns have been sold.  And when all is said and done, it’s the total size of the civilian gun arsenal that really counts in terms of looking at the causes of gun violence because guess what? No guns = no violence with guns.

In that regard, a funny thing happened to new gun sales in January – they didn’t go down, they collapsed.  The drop in sales from December wasn’t in the nature of 20 percent, which is what the experts are saying will be the story for 2017; it was more like a drop of 50 percent, and I don’t ever recall something like that ever happening before.

In December, 2016 the NICS call center logged 2,763,115 calls. In January, 2017 total calls were 2,032,108.  Hold on you say, that’s only a decline of 26 percent, which happens to be, by the way, the biggest month-to-month drop since December-January, 2015-2016. But there’s only one little problem: of the slightly more than 2 million calls in January, more than one million were calls for license checks, pawn redemptions and private sales. In fact, January 2017 marked the first time that calls for background checks on over-the-counter purchases were less than half the total calls handled by NICS. Gun sale checks were 976,341, which meant the month-to-month calls for background checks on gun sales dropped by nearly 55 percent.

Neither the NRA nor the NSSF has let out a peep about the January NICS numbers, as opposed to previous months when they couldn‘t wait to let everyone know that background checks for gun sales kept going up. If this trend continues, gun sales are to go back to where they were at the beginning of 2012, before Sandy Hook and before Obama got on his high horse about regulating guns.

No wonder Wayne-o went to CPAC and pledged that the NRA would become the first line of defense against violent, left-wing thugs. After all, if Trump gets his way with immigration, we won’t have all those undocumented, criminally-disposed ‘illegals’ top kick around any more. And unless Gun-nut Nation can come up with a new threat to hearth and home, it may not be long until the shrunken January gun numbers will be a pleasant memory compared to what gun sales might really become.

Today Rush was exhorting, indeed begging people who voted for Trump to stand up and support the president against what he called the Democratic Party’s ‘silent coup.’ Maybe all these Trump voters should go out and buy a gun. And maybe Rush should stick it you know where.

U.S. Soccer Orders All Players To ‘Stand Respectfully’ For National Anthem

An amendment to U.S. Soccer federation regulations now requires all players to “stand respectfully” at games for the national anthem.

The change was made following an anthem protest against inequality in America before at least three matches last year by a player currently on the women’s soccer team.

The new regulation, passed last month by the federation, reads: “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”

Penalties for violating the new rule remain unclear. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told Fox Soccer TV that actions would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Sitting out or taking one knee on the field instead of standing during the anthem was begun last year by San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick to protest racial inequality amid a growing outcry over the increasing number of blacks killed in controversial shootings by law enforcement. 

National Women’s Soccer League midfielder Megan Rapinoe took a knee at least three time during matches in 2016, including before a game against the Chicago Red Stars (when she was playing with the Seattle Reign) and against Thailand and the Netherlands, to protest inequality. Other protests have included several other NFL players and other professional athletes, as well as athletes and even a coach from several sports at high schools — and marching bands.

Rapinoe could not immediately be reached for comment. She said last year that her protests were intended to express solidarity with Kaepernick. Rapinoe, who is gay, said she was also protesting injustices against the LGBTQ community. Kaerpernick plans this year to stand during the anthem.

U.S. Soccer, which has come under stinging criticism for vastly unequal pay rates for its female and male players, issued a statement condemning Rapinoe’s protest after the match against the Thai team. (U.S women, who won the World Cup in Canada in 2015, divvied up $2 million for their victory. U.S. men were handed $9 million in the 2014 World Cup, even though they were eliminated in round 16.)

A  statement from the players of  the U.S. women’s team sent to Sports Illustrated.com said that the team had been unaware of the new regulation and would “assess the implications of any unreasonable restrictions for our members.”

The coach for the women’s team, Jill Ellis, told The Associated Press that she was pleased about the policy.

“I’ve always felt that that should be what we do, to honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey. I think that should be the expectation,” she said.

Floridian Tells Police His Dog Shot His Girlfriend

When police asked a man how his girlfriend got shot in the leg, he blamed the dog.

Jacksonville, Florida, police, responding to a 911 call about a shooting Tuesday night, met with Brian Murphy, who told them his dog Diesel had accidentally shot his girlfriend while she was in bed, according to Jacksonville’s WJAX-TV.

Murphy told officers he and his girlfriend, Summer Miracle, were sleeping when Diesel woke him up wanting to go outside. When Diesel and Murphy went back into the house, the dog led the way into the bedroom, he said, according to First Coast News.

Murphy reported that he then saw a flash and heard a bang. He told police he thinks Diesel jumped up on a nightstand, causing a gun on it to fire.

The bullet from Murphy’s gun hit Miracle in the leg.

Murphy told police he covered Miracle’s wound with a towel before calling 911.

Miracle’s not sure how she was shot, according to The Palm Beach Post. She told police she was asleep when the bullet struck her.

Miracle was treated at a hospital for injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

There was no word on whether charges would be filed.

Police Shooting Survivor Charles Kinsey Reveals The Exact Moment He ‘Accepted’ His Fate

On July 18, 2016, trained special-needs caregiver Charles Kinsey was helping a client with autism who had wandered from his group home with a toy truck in hand and was being confronted by police. As police surrounded Kinsey’s visibly agitated client, Kinsey’s attempts to diffuse the situation were overcome by mounting tension. Police ordered Kinsey to lie on the ground with his hands up in the air, and he complied. However, he was still shot by police. Part of the incident was captured on cell phone video.

Upon seeing the footage, actress and autism advocate Holly Robinson Peete, like many, was outraged. So, she organized a panel discussion about autism and policing, and invited Kinsey to share his story, including the parts that cell phone video didn’t capture. As Kinsey said during the discussion, the incident was terrifying, but he kept thinking about his client’s safety in the midst of the chaos.

“I’ve got these guys coming at me with AR-15s,” Kinsey says. “My first thought was to throw my hands up and let them know, ‘Hey, I’m no threat to you. None whatsoever. My client is no threat to you. None whatsoever.’”

Officers on the scene reportedly believed that Kinsey’s client was holding a gun, rather than his toy truck. Kinsey continued trying to convey that neither he nor his client was a threat.

“I made it so clear to these officers. I made it clear. I mean, I’m at the height of my lungs, to where I was hoarse when I got finished,” Kinsey says. “It got to the point to where I just gave up.” 

When I put my head down, I really accepted what was going to happen right there.

The moment he gave up, Kinsey continues, is apparent in the cell phone video. “I don’t know if … you’ve seen the part where I had my hands up and my head was up and I was talking to my client. When I put my head down, I really accepted what was going to happen right there,” Kinsey says.

Kinsey was shot once in the leg by police. He was handcuffed at the scene before being transported to the hospital. Those final moments of the incident, he says, were extremely upsetting.

“They treated me like a criminal,” Kinsey says. “They handcuffed me, they left me there bleeding, they didn’t try to put no pressure on the wound, anything.”

After Kinsey recovered from his injury, he chose not to return to that same job. “I’m afraid and angry at the same time,” he says. “My job asked me to come back, and I flat-out told them no. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to go back and continue doing my job; it’s just that I didn’t want to get caught in that neighborhood by those police officers.”

Today, Kinsey still struggles to understand how something like this could have happened. 

“I just was doing my job,” he says. “I look back and I ask myself, ‘Why?’ You know? ‘Why did it happen to me?’ I still right now, to this day, don’t even much have the answer to that. But I’m here. And I’m grateful to be here.”

To watch more from the panel discussion ― including the perspectives of two former police officers ― visit OWN’s YouTube channel.

The Invisible Way Guns Keep Women In Abusive Relationships

Nicole Beverly, a clinical social worker living in Ypsilanti, Michigan, hadn’t given her husband’s gun much thought until the night he pressed it against her head.

It was 2009. Before that, her husband, a former police officer, had never threatened her with his firearm. It sat in a box in their bedroom closet, almost forgotten. Over the years, she said, he had abused her in other ways: Calling her names, shoving her to the ground, throwing objects in her direction. But the gun never made an appearance.

Once it did, everything changed. From then on Beverly, then 36, couldn’t stop thinking about the weapon, she said. She was acutely aware of its exact location in the house at any given time, in terror of when it might be brandished next.

But he didn’t have to take it out again. He only needed to mention it and Beverly would shrink. He frequently threatened to kill her, she said, telling her he knew exactly where to shoot to paralyze her. He told her he would disfigure her face, she said, and that she would never see it coming.

It took five months after the incident for her to gather the courage to leave. And when she did she took the gun.

“I didn’t feel safe leaving the relationship knowing he had it in his possession because he was threatening me with it on a regular basis,” Beverly told The Huffington Post by phone on Wednesday. “Once it was introduced into the equation, it became a tool of intimidation and fear.”

While the gun in her home was never used to injure her in a way that was physically observable, living in constant fear took a steep toll on her mental health and made it far more difficult for her to leave.

Beverly represents countless women who’ve found themselves in similar positions where a firearm becomes a symbolic weapon of mass destruction in their relationships ― even when the trigger is never pulled. 

A new study published in the Journal of Women’s Health by Susan B. Sorenson, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, is now shedding light on the psychological impact of gun use in abusive relationships. 

Working with the police department in Philadelphia, Sorenson examined 35,000 domestic violence incidents that occurred in the city in 2013, the most recent year in which complete data was available. She studied the role of guns in domestic incidents, and looked at what effect they had on victims.

In the incidents during which an external physical weapon was used, one-third involved guns. When a gun was present, it was rarely fired, Sorenson said.

More commonly, 69 percent of the time, it was used to threaten or coerce the intimate partner, much like Beverly described her husband doing to her. Guns were only fired 10 percent of the time. 

“I was interested in this topic because so much is focused on women’s deaths, I thought it was important to look at guns in women’s lives,” she said.

Though victims who had a gun used against them were less likely to have visible injuries compared to victims who reported the use of other weapons, like knives or bats, she said, they were far more likely to experience high levels of fear.

That chronic fear can be extremely detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health, said Julian Ford, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Law.

If a person does not feel safe inside their own home and believes they could be injured or killed at any time, they will go into a survival state, he said, describing it as being in a constant “fight or flight” mode ― but having nowhere to go.

“It is enormously hard on the person psychologically and on the body physically,” he said.

Experiencing trauma of this kind can make a person more susceptible to medical illnesses, Ford said, as well as a wide range of emotional and behavioral difficulties including depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

“The full range of life is affected because the person cannot really let down their guard,” he said.

For Beverly, it was debilitating back pain, recurrent shingles and depression. She said she learned to shut off her emotions to stay safe. If she cried or showed fear, her husband would become enraged, she said.

A person living in constant fear is more likely to be controlled by it, and subsequently their abusive partner. That overwhelming fear could reduce a victim’s willingness to leave or end the relationship, Sorenson said, thus promoting chronic abuse.  

“You don’t necessarily need to hit a woman to get her to do what you want,” Sorenson said. 

That’s the concept of “coercive control,” a pattern of ongoing behavior used to dominate a partner, she added. It can include psychological, verbal abuse and stalking, and aims to isolate the victim. Firearms can play a big role in helping an abuser to maintain control over his partner.

Injuries and homicides are just the tip of the iceberg.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action

For Beverly, the mere presence of the gun created feelings of helplessness, she said.

“Any reference to it would make me comply,” Beverly said. “I knew if he was going to kill me that would be the most likely way he would do it.”

She said she feared her husband would try and kill her the moment she left. It took months to create a plan with her mother in which she believed she could leave safely, without being shot or worse.

Beverly had good reason to be afraid. Most victims who are killed by intimate partners are murdered while attempting to leave, Sorenson said. Her findings illustrate just how powerful firearms are in trapping women in abusive relationships.

“If you have an intimate partner who has threatened you with a gun, leaving is incredibly difficult,” she said. “A person might decide to stay there and stay alive.”  

Women are far less likely to fight back when a gun is present, she said, and are more likely to do what the abuser says to stay safe.

Sorenson’s findings show the real need to remove guns from abusers. Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun, according to one study. And they frequently are. Every 16 hours, a woman in the U.S. is killed by an intimate partner wielding a gun

Under federal law it’s illegal for convicted domestic abusers to own or purchase firearms. But in practice, many states lack enforcement mechanisms to separate abusers from the guns they already a own.  

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, said Sorenson’s study provides even further evidence that gun violence and domestic violence doesn’t always look like someone being shot.

“Injuries and homicides are just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We may be missing many common ways that guns are being used to perpetuate abuse, whether it’s physical or mental.”  

It’s been 8 years since Beverly left her husband. She’s still living in Michigan, and her ex-husband is currently in prison on aggravated stalking charges. She said she is still terrified of him and what could happen if he gets out on parole.

I know how easy it is to obtain a gun legally and illegally,” she said. “I take all of his previous threats very seriously.”

Melissa Jeltsen covers domestic violence and other issues related to women’s health, safety and security. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow her on Twitter.

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