This week the government published new guidance on gun control in the UK including a provision that those with a history of domestic violence should not be permitted to possess a firearm or gun. The case of Michael Atherton who shot dead three women: Susan McGoldrick, Alison Turnbull and Tanya Turnbull on 1st January 2012 is painful evidence that this was needed and overdue. Michael Atherton’s history of domestic violence was known to the police, but he was still issued a gun license and legally owned six weapons.
However, gun controls would have prevented the deaths of none of the 13 UK women killed in July 2013 alone, through suspected male violence, the same month that this legislation change was introduced. This is because, of those 13 women none were shot:
- 5 were stabbed
- 2 were strangled
- 2 were killed through blows from a bunt object
- 1 was asphyxiated
- 1 was killed through head injuries
- 1 was burnt alive, and
- 1 was so badly decomposed that post-mortem results have been inconclusive
The men arrested for the killings have all been known to the women:
- In 5 cases the man arrested was a husband/ex-husband of the women killed
- In 5 cases the man arrested was a boyfriend/ex-boyfriend
- One man has been arrested for the murder of his daughter
- One man has been arrested for the murder of his grandmother
- 2 men have been arrested for the murder of a woman from the same address.
If the government is serious about ending male violence against women it need to look at the causes. Of course tightening gun control is a good thing , but women’s lives will continue to be taken if the focus is on headline grabbing quick wins. Male violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men upheld by divisive gender standards. Until a government seriously approaches the issue from that perspective, women and girls will continue to be beaten, raped, assaulted, abused, controlled and killed by men.