Washington State has enacted a law that will allow domestic violence survivors to receive a notification if their abuser attempts to purchase a gun.
As of this month, The Associated Press reports, gun dealers are required to notify law enforcement within five days of someone failing a background check after trying to buy a firearm. The law also calls for a statewide notification system that will alert anyone with a court protection order for stalking, domestic violence, or sexual assault about the attempted purchase.
Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, along with those under a protective order for domestic violence, from purchasing or owning a gun. But in Washington, there was no system in place to let survivors know when their abuser tries to buy a gun, which could be a frightening indicator of future violence.
“Information about an abusive partner’s access to firearms is widely considered one of the key details most predictive of lethality risk,” Tamaso Johnson, public policy director at the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), told Broadly. “This information, provided in a timely manner, could empower survivors to leverage their own expertise and take additional steps at a time of potentially elevated risk.”
According to WSCADV, firearms were used in 54 percent of domestic violence homicides in the state between 1997 and 2014, making them the most common weapon. More than half of the perpetrators were legally prohibited from owning a gun.
Washington’s new law was passed after a number of women testified to its importance during a senate hearing. Broadly reports that one woman, Courtney Weaver, said her ex-boyfriend shot her with a hollow-point .45 in the face and arm in 2010. He is due to be released from jail in 2019. Being notified if he attempts to purchase a gun, Weaver said, would “help me safety-plan.”