Defend International is asking its members and partners to join the Gun Free Valentine Campaign, the #GunFreeValentine campaign, which begins on Valentine’s Day, February 14th and ends on International Women’s Day, March 8th.
This initiative is launched by Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) to alert women to the risks of a gun in the home, intimate partner violence, and how laws can be used to save lives.
In a number of countries, gun ownership is viewed as a sign of love when a man purchases a gun purportedly to protect his family and home. It is a myth, however, that a gun in the home makes families safer. The Medical Research Council (MRC) of South Africa found that legal guns are used in 75% of cases in which a woman is shot and killed, and in 60% of these cases, the shooting occurs in her own home. According to studies in the US, the presence of guns in the home is associated with a 3-fold increased homicide risk within the home compared to homes without guns. The risk connected to gun ownership increases to 8-fold when the offender is an intimate partner or relative of the victim, and is 20 times higher when previous domestic violence exists.
While some countries have dismal records on legislation regarding domestic violence and firearms possession, others are taking the right steps.
In South Africa, for example, both the Firearms Control Act and the Domestic Violence Act give women the power to take action against domestic violence by requiring police or court officials to confiscate firearms or other dangerous weapons when a domestic violence complaint involving a gun or other weapon is made.
This year marks the 5th anniversary of the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius on February 14th 2013.
To participate in the campaign, simply follow these steps:
- Tweet and share on social media this image with the hashtags: #GunFreeValentine #LoveLivesHereGunsDont #DisarmDomesticViolence
- Tweet and share on social media a picture of you and your partner with the hashtags #GunFreeValentine #LoveLivesHereGunsDont
- Help educate members in your community about the increased risks when a gun is in the home, and be a part of dispelling the myth that a gun in the home makes families safer.
- Contact legislators in your home country and urge them to enact laws removing guns from perpetrators of domestic violence.