ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 13, 2010) – First Lady Katie O’Malley today addressed participants of the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Annual Convention which was held at the Renaissance Harbor Hotel in Baltimore. The two-day conference convened national experts from state and federal agencies to discuss ways states can solve problems with regard to enforcing state and federal firearms laws. As an Associate Judge for the District Court of Baltimore City, in her prior work as a prosecutor, and in her volunteer work at the House of Ruth, First Lady Katie O’Malley has worked tirelessly to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence.
“Today’s conference is about keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. Everyone here today knows how critical this issue is, but I want to underline why it’s so important for us to focus on,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “In my work as a judge, I have seen too many times the tragic results of what happens when domestic abusers have access to firearms.”
“Over the last year in Maryland, we have had 53 domestic violence-related deaths – and more than half of those deaths were by firearms,” she continued. “Studies show that the presence of a gun in a home is associated with three times the homicide risk of a home without a gun. That risk increases to eight times when the offender is an intimate partner or relative of the victim, and is 20 times higher when a history of domestic violence exists.”
“While there are still far too many deaths from domestic violence, my husband – Governor O’Malley – and the General Assembly are working together to make real progress to crack down on abusers, take guns out of the hands of violent criminals, and to make our State safer for all Marylanders,” she said.
Last year, the O’Malley-Brown Administration partnered with members of the General Assembly to pass legislation that removes guns from the hands of domestic abusers. This year, the O’Malley-Brown Administration partnered with members of the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing a victim of domestic abuse to terminate a residential lease with a copy of a final protective order.
“The legislation provides important new restrictions and reduces the risk of death or injury to those most vulnerable to attack, as well as to police officers,” said First Lady O’Malley. “These new laws are vitally important to us, since District Court judges enforce state law – not federal law. These important new state laws give Maryland District Court judges powerful new measures to protect victims in domestic violence cases.”
In enacting these laws, Maryland not only comes into compliance with Federal Law, but also joins seven other states in which judges are required to order a respondent of a final protective order to surrender all firearms, and twelve states that require judges to order the surrender of all firearms during a temporary protective order.
American women who are killed by their intimate partners are more likely to be killed with guns than by all other methods combined. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, compared to homes without guns, the presence of guns in the home is associated with a 3-fold increased homicide risk within the home. The risk 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.
In addition to the firearms legislation, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention has distributed federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for initiatives to aid in the fight to stop domestic violence and assist the victims of these crimes throughout the state. The forty-five grants to date total $2.3 million.