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Brady Says No to Shannon Lee Goessling as Head of Office of Violence Against Women

Prosecutor has record arguing in favor of introducing guns into domestic violence situations

Washington, D.C., March 8, 2019 — Following President Donald Trump’s nomination of Shannon Lee Goessling to lead the Office of Violence Against Women, one of the nation’s leading gun violence prevention groups announced its opposition to her nomination. Brady called for a new nominee, citing Goessling’s history of arguing that women are safer from domestic violence when they introduce guns into the situation, a position that data and research clearly demonstrate to be false.

Brady president Kris Brown stated,

“As we recognize International Women’s Day, and as leading women’s and domestic violence organizations call for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, this nomination is deeply distressing. That the White House would nominate a woman who advocates bringing guns into domestic violence situations to lead the Office of Violence Against Women is significantly misguided. Introducing guns in a domestic violence situation only puts victims at greater risk. Guns escalate already dangerous situations, and lead to the tragic shooting deaths of hundreds of women every year.
“We are also concerned that this is at least the second Trump nominee, following Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to suggest that arming the population they represent is the best method of protecting them from harm. We urge President Trump to withdraw this nomination and select someone who will instead unite on this crucial issue and lead this critical office based on data and facts that will save women’s lives rather than put them at further risk.”

Domestic violence and gun violence survivor Kate Ranta added,

“Guns don’t make domestic abuse victims safer. They didn’t make me safer when my abuser shot me and my father in front of my four-year-old son, and they don’t make women safer who already live in fear for their lives. The idea that arming women already at physical risk would protect them is absolutely false. I’m horrified that the administration would put someone in charge of the office protecting women who believes otherwise.”

While working as counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a public interest law firm with a record of advocating for extreme gun rights, Goessling wrote an amicus brief in District of Columbia v. Heller arguing that women in domestic violence situations should arm themselves against their abusers, relying on research that was more than 30 years old. Following the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, Goessling told a Florida House panel that “my best friend is my Glock” as she waved her concealed weapons permit and NRA membership card in the air. Goessling also filed an amicus brief opposing same-sex marriages, and the foundation took on multiple cases for groups and businesses targeting immigrants and other Americans who speak a language other than English.

Research clearly demonstrates that introducing guns into a domestic violence situation significantly increases the risk to the victim.

For more on the link between guns and domestic violence, read Brady’s 2018 report, “Beyond Bullet Wounds: Guns in the Hands of Domestic Abusers.”

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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