A Message From The President

March 2020

“Be a nuisance when it counts.  Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action.  Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics —  but never give up.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Environmentalist + Journalist + Activist

This month marks the second year since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 children and adults were killed and 17 injured.  This came just 20 months after Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting, the scene of 50 deaths and 53 injured. While these made national headlines, they were only two incidents.

This has been a decade of mass shootings.  From 2014 through 2018, there were 125 mass shootings in Florida; 194 people were killed and 575 were injured.  Mass shootings, however, are just the most visible evidence of gun violence.  Guns and violence against women – Intimate Partner Violence – is a lethal epidemic that impacts the status of women in our country and our local communities.

Nearly one million women alive today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.

There is an inextricable link between intimate partner violence and gun violence in our country.  Abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their victims, and guns further exacerbate the power and control dynamic used by abusers to inflict emotional abuse and exert coercive control over their victims.

We know that women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries.  Every month, an average of 52 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner and 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun.  In more than half of mass shootings over the past decade, the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member as part of the rampage.

While the deadly intersection of guns and intimate partner violence affects all women, it has a disproportionate impact on Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Latina/Hispanic women. In addition, segments of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities are highly vulnerable to severe forms of relationship violence.

While the United States is not alone in societal issues of domestic violence, political and personal extremism, and mental illness, the gun homicide rate is 25 times greater than other high-income countries.  The only difference is availability and access to guns.

While gun safety is highly politicized, we find bipartisan agreement around some common sense initiatives and policies:

  1. Ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.

  2. Enable the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence as a public health issue.

  3. Require background checks for all gun sales.

  4. Support local violence prevention and intervention programs

  5. Disarm all domestic abusers.

  6. Make extreme risk protection orders available in every state.

In this month’s Action on the CAC Front, VP of the Community Action Committee, Linda D’Aquila, speaks to how the CAC is exploring Athena’s approach to violence and gun safety.  I find the continued work of the CAC around this and other critical issues inspiring.

As an organizational thought leader committed to the status of women, Athena continues to provide a platform for discussion and positive movement through our program speakers such as Shannon Watts.  May we continue to “inform and stimulate” and may we “never give up.”