Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence
Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign
In May the world learned of a tragic incident which has become all too common in our newspapers and on our televisions. Angered by a bitter divorce and upset at the sale of their house, a 61 year old man shot dead his estranged wife and step-daughter before turning the gun on himself. What made this story surprising to many people was not the scenario itself, but rather where it took place.
Few would have immediately guessed that this shooting was the latest in a history of gun violence unfolding in Norway, where more than 80 women have been killed by their partner or their ex-partner since 2000. Roughly one third of these were murdered with a gun. Around the world, it is easier to be banned from driving than to be banned from possessing a firearm. For many women, this significantly heightens their risk of violent death and injury. This danger affects rich countries as well as those emerging from conflict or suffering from extreme poverty. Norway has approximately 1.3 million legally held firearms, spread across approximately 500,000 licenses – overwhelmingly in the hands of men.
This case in Norway reminds us that no community is immune from the problem of domestic abuse, and the power of a gun to make it lethal. In France and South Africa, one in three women killed by their husbands is shot; in the USA this rises to two in three. Domestic shootings usually involve legal firearms, and women’s risk of being killed by an intimate partner triples when a gun is in the home. Contrary to popular belief, a gun in the home is much more likely to be used to intimidate or physically injure family members than be used against an outside intruder.