When Cedric Anderson entered the San Bernardino, Ca., elementary school where his estranged wife worked in April, he had a concealed handgun and past allegations of domestic abuse. The 53-year-old walked into the classroom where Karen Smith taught and started shooting, killing Smith and an 8-year-old student before turning the gun on himself. The incident highlights a nagging issue for gun control advocates: armed husbands and boyfriends are a leading cause of premature death for women in the U.S., the New York Daily News reports. Anderson was charged with domestic-related assault and battery in 2013, but the charges were tossed after the victim didn’t appear in court. He was legally allowed to own a gun. As gun safety groups participate today in National Gun Violence Awareness Day they note that more than half of the partner-to-partner killings in recent years were committed with a gun.
“We … think that we are safer in the United States from violence, terrorism and other dangers,” said Allison Anderman of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “But I wonder if American women know that we are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by our counterparts in other countries.” Domestic violence charges are often reduced to a misdemeanor, or the charges are dropped if a witness doesn’t speak. People convicted of any domestic violence charge are federally banned from owning a gun. Some 35 states lack a full ban on misdemeanor offenders, creating something of a headache for local prosecutors. Cities in states that ban domestic violence offenders from buying or possessing a gun have a 25 percent lower partner-to-partner homicide rate than states that don’t. Federal background checks in 2014 rejected 6,190 applications for domestic violence offenders, and states denied another 3,034 applicants. Only 1.3 percent of applications were denied that year, with 14.8 million applications getting the green light.