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Minnesota should do more to protect victims of domestic violence

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Madeline Schwartz
“Do you feel safe at home?” This is a question that we all ought to be routinely asked at medical appointments, and for good reason. This is a method of identifying if people are in abusive relationships or living situations that can be extremely difficult to leave. Domestic violence acts as a silent killer in Minnesota, and we need to take action to protect victims before it’s too late.

Statewide, domestic violence is an issue that affects many, sometimes without us realizing it. While more than 65,000 adults receive services for domestic violence each year in Minnesota, less than half of victims ever reach out for services. Domestic violence can result in psychological and physical harm to victims. Research shows that the psychological effects of domestic violence against women can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Additionally, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence recognizes low self-esteem and difficulties trusting others as common effects of psychological abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Project in Minnesota identifies violence in relationships to stem from abusers internalizing gender roles and norms seen in the media and religious institutions, having feelings of low self-worth, having grown up viewing violence in the home, and having difficulties expressing or distinguishing emotions. Violence in relationships can be used to control victims, making it harder for victims of abuse to leave dangerous situations.

Women are disproportionately victims

Domestic abuse is a form of gender violence because women are disproportionately victims in the United States. This problem demands more attention because coercion, manipulation, threatening behavior, and all types of abuse can often go unnoticed by others.

Despite increasing awareness of domestic violence, less is known about the role of firearms in domestic violence homicides. According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, at least 79 percent of the victims of domestic violence homicides in 2017 were women in Minnesota. From 2015 to 2017, gunshot was also the leading cause of death for adult female victims of domestic violence homicide.

Currently, an Order for Protection (OFP) can be given by a judge in the case of domestic abuse in Minnesota if the judge has concluded that the person requesting the order faces immediate danger of domestic violence. Since Minnesota’s 2014 Domestic Violence Firearm Act, abusers are required to transfer or surrender firearms temporarily if convicted of certain domestic assault offenses, subject to Domestic Child Abuse No Contact orders or certain OFPs.

However, as Minnesota’s Kare 11 news team reported in March that in 2016 there were 2,937 domestic violence OFP cases filed that required a transfer of firearms if present but only 119 were confirmed (4 percent of cases) statewide. There was no way to know exactly how many abusers possessed firearms. However, Roseau County confirmed a transfer of firearms for 73 percent of Domestic Violence OFP cases because the county judge made confirming firearm transfers a top priority.

Legislation would help prevent gun violence

The Gun Violence Protective Orders Authorization Bill SF 1262/HF 1605 was introduced in the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, but was not passed. This would provide a more direct way to prevent gun violence by allowing someone to petition that another poses a significant and immediate danger to self or others by possessing a firearm. This would be a step in the right direction for victims of domestic violence in Minnesota. In order to protect these victims from gun violence, I urge the Minnesota Legislature to pass this bill.

Compared to the state’s current requirements under the Domestic Violence Firearm Act, this type of OFP could be more effective. With these OFPs, there would be a greater likelihood of gun transfer affidavits because they are specific to gun violence and it would be clear that petitioners know that someone is in possession of a firearm and poses a danger to self or others. In addition, under this OFP, guns would need to be transferred within 24 hours rather than three days as with the current OFP for domestic abuse. This would allow victims in immediate danger of gun violence to petition for an OFP that would be more likely to protect them and others.

It’s time for Minnesota to do more to protect against the gendered issue of domestic violence homicides.

Madeline Schwartz is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.


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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by richard owens on 12/23/2018 - 11:04 am.

    EVERY judge should remove firearms from a person who has been convicted of domestic abuse.

    That’s not too much to ask.

    Red Flag laws could identify bully behaviors, cruelty to animals, threats and assaults as early as teenage juveniles, not only to protect society, but to intervene appropriately BEFORE an abuser has developed a pattern.

    Too often we read, “The assailant was known to law enforcement”.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 12/24/2018 - 07:06 am.

      Or the victims can just leave that way no one’s rights have to be violated. Red flag laws are a disaster and unconstitutional. How long do you think it would be before a disgruntled ex/neighbor/relative falsely reported someone to have their guns taken away?

      You don’t need a red flag law to identify bad behavior. In almost every case, people see the behavior or know of it or the person is on meds before they ever harm another person. Intervene then so you won’t have to violate the rights of the rest of us. Take the Parkland kid, the FBI was alerted ahead of time to his online threats, the Sheriffs office was out there numerous times (20+), he was reported for pulling a gun on someone and putting it to their head (which is a felony assault with a deadly weapon). The kid should have been in prison or a mental health facility long before he ever took a gun to school. But no one did anything about any of that.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 12/24/2018 - 03:51 pm.

        Minnpost has to come clean and confess that the Bob Barnes account is just a Minnpost staffer trying to stir up clicks.

        • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 12/27/2018 - 02:06 pm.

          If you saw what I have to go through to get a post on here you’d know better. I’m not affiliated with any political party or organization. I deal in reality and facts. Some here don’t like my position on many things

          • Submitted by ian wade on 12/30/2018 - 04:57 pm.

            You have no more difficulty getting posted than anyone else here. My first reply to this one was censored. Buck up…

      • Submitted by richard owens on 12/24/2018 - 04:08 pm.

        You puzzle me, Bob. Do you have a justification for all these mass shootings?

        Las Vegas? That guy built an arsenal and hit over 600 people. Red Flag for rapidly building up an armory.

        Aurora theater? The guy was showing schizophrenic impulses yet he was buying weaponry. Red Flag?

        The little kids killed by an autistic kid who had murderous impulses yet mom took him to the range and he learned to kill en masse. RED FLAG?

        C’mon man, these are real victims and the guns are never going to love you back.

        • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 12/24/2018 - 05:42 pm.

          All of your examples except maybe the Vegas guy was the result of SSRI drugs. The manufacturers clearly state on the labels to not give those to anyone under 24 yet Doctors keep doing it. Go read the labels on these drugs once (Paxil, Celexa, Prozac etc), they clearly state what can happen to those under 24. If you go look up the cases, you’ll find almost every mass shooter was either on them or recently got off of them when they committed their crime. Thus they were all known to have mental health issues.

          As for the Vegas shooter, his gf knew and the hotel failed to police the situation.. there’s no way he got all that hardware up there without someone noticing suspicious activity. More knew as well: “Another brother, Bruce Paddock, told investigators that “Paddock was suffering from mental illness and was paranoid and delusional.” A Las Vegas doctor, identified as Paddock’s primary care physician, told investigators he believed the gunman may have had bipolar disorder but the he had refused medication to treat it. He also described Paddock’s behavior as “odd.”” — That’s from the official investigation. His brothers said he had mental health issues as did his doctor .

          As you can see, it’s almost always mental health issues.

          • Submitted by richard owens on 12/25/2018 - 07:54 am.

            Thanks Bob. You’re no help at all.

          • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/26/2018 - 01:39 pm.

            Look at all the convoluted policies and procedures Bob wants everyone to wade through, rather then the simplest and most obvious answer…taking away the gun. Something about Occam’s Razor.

          • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/27/2018 - 08:07 pm.

            You know: This sounds just like “Trump” excuses, excuses, excuses, the only reason your stuff doesn’t work is because we don’t all buy into it, its our fault!

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/28/2018 - 11:40 am.

            Weird, because people all over the world have mental health issues and take those drugs. But here we have far more guns and looser gun laws.

            Its guns, Bob. Just guns. Nothing but guns.

  2. Submitted by Brian Gandt on 12/28/2018 - 08:45 am.

    No doubt libertarian Bob will have no problem with revealing people’s mental health issues to the authorities/appropriate people.

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