An ounce of prevention

To the Editor:

This paper recently featured an op/ed essay, “More lifelines needed for victims of abuse,” coauthored by State Rep. (R-Dist. 18) Samara Heavrin and State Rep. (D-Dist. 40) Nima Kulkarni. They announced that they are prefiling legislation that would make victims of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

“As the General Assembly considers our legislation, it is worth pointing out that Kentucky has enacted a slate of laws designed to help keep victims safe,” they write.

I applaud and support this earnest and helpful bipartisan legislation. However, I can’t help but recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s good they want to help victims—but of course it would be better if these people weren’t victims in the first place.

The word “victim” appears at least six times in their op/ed. The word “gun” or “firearm” doesn’t appear once.

And yet according to The Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence, “Domestic violence, including intimate partner violence, is a public health crisis in the U.S. Nearly one in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence at the hands of their intimate partner in their lifetime. Fortunately, most victims of domestic violence survive. But far too many do not. Firearms contribute significantly to domestic violence in the U.S. — to threaten, to coerce, to control, and to kill. Around 4.5 million women in the United States have been threatened with a gun, and nearly 1 million women have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner. Over half of all intimate partner homicides are committed with guns. Indeed, a woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun. To reduce the number of domestic violence homicides, we must ensure that people who abuse their intimate partners or family do not have access to firearms.”

Finally and again, I applaud this commendable bipartisan effort. Hopefully, Representatives Heavrin and Kulkarni will coauthor serious gun control legislation that would help to prevent people from becoming victims in the first place—not toss them a lifeline after they are victims.

Mark Heinz

Leitchfield, KY

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