Dear Editor: FULs could also terrorise women in domestic violence cases

EPL Infrafred Sauna

“[…] The presence of firearms in a household where there is a history of domestic violence increases the risk of lethal outcomes.

“[…] The use of firearms by abusers in cases of domestic violence can extend beyond fatal outcomes. Firearms can be employed as tools to exert control, intimidate, and inflict harm or fear on victims…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the potential danger of a Firearm User’s License (FUL), potentially within the context of domestic violence, was submitted to Wired868 by Orson Rogers of Belmont:

A domestic violence victim is bullied by a gun-toting spouse.

Amidst the clamour for more FULs (34,000 pending applications) and the desire to “light them up”, we need to pause and consider some serious side effects, particularly with the dramatic increase in reported domestic violence cases in Trinidad and Tobago.

Firearms and domestic violence are interconnected in various ways, and this issue has significant social, legal, and public health implications. Here are a few points that should be considered in granting an FUL.

Risk Escalation: The presence of firearms in a household where there is a history of domestic violence increases the risk of lethal outcomes. Research has shown that the presence of a firearm can make domestic violence situations more dangerous, as the likelihood of homicide increases when firearms are involved.

Protection Orders: Individuals subject to domestic violence protection orders or restraining orders should be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms as a measure to reduce the risk of further violence and harm.

A woman runs from her partner in a depiction of domestic abuse.

Legal Measures: Many countries have implemented laws that restrict firearm access for individuals with a history of domestic violence.  Trinidad & Tobago should consider laws that involve prohibiting individuals convicted of certain domestic violence offenses from owning firearms.

Research has consistently shown that the presence of firearms in domestic violence situations escalates the risk of homicide. Firearms can quickly turn a violent situation into a fatal one due to their lethal nature.

The use of firearms by abusers in cases of domestic violence can extend beyond fatal outcomes. Firearms can be employed as tools to exert control, intimidate, and inflict harm or fear on victims.

Image: Gun play in domestic violence.

Some ways in which abusers might use firearms to exert power or control in domestic violence situations include:

Threats: The mere presence of a firearm can be used as a threat to coerce or intimidate the victim. The abuser might brandish the firearm to create fear and exert control over the victim.

Physical Harm: Firearms can be used to cause physical injury to victims without necessarily leading to a fatality. The abuser might use the firearm to shoot or physically assault the victim.

Psychological Impact: The knowledge that an abuser possesses a firearm can create an atmosphere of constant fear and terror for the victim. This psychological manipulation can be an effective tool for control.

Image: A domestic violence statistic.

Isolation: Abusers might use the threat of firearms to isolate victims from friends, family, and support networks, making it harder for the victim to seek help or escape the situation.

Preventing Help: The presence of a firearm can deter victims from seeking help or reporting the abuse, as they might fear retaliation.

Escalation: The presence of firearms can escalate the intensity of abusive behaviour and make it harder for victims to escape the cycle of abuse.

Manipulation: Abusers might use firearms to manipulate the victim into complying with their demands or staying in the abusive relationship.

Image: A domestic violence statistic.

The use of firearms to terrorize and control victims in cases of domestic violence underscores the urgent need for measures to prevent access to firearms by individuals with histories of domestic violence.

It’s important for society to recognize the multifaceted dangers that firearms can pose in domestic violence scenarios and to work towards comprehensive solutions that prioritize victim safety and well-being.

I hope that the various advocacy groups and organizations work to raise awareness about the link between firearms and domestic violence.

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