HAWC pleased critical safety measures will return to Texas.

The Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) is pleased with the 8-1 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), ruling the federal government did not violate a Texas man’s Second Amendment rights when requiring him to hand over firearms as the subject of a domestic violence protective order.

The 5th Circuit Court’s decision to rollback this survivor protection was amid an alarming rise in violence, as reported in HAWC’s Gun Violence Report. In the Houston area, 73% of domestic violence deaths from 2019-22 involved guns. To underline the magnitude of the domestic violence crisis in our community, Houston Police Department reports domestic violence related homicides account for approximately 18% of total homicides in Houston.

HAWC is vindicated by the decision to reinstate these protections and to witness SCOTUS stand by survivors. For the past 47 years, HAWC has worked directly with domestic violence survivors, and knows listening to survivor experiences is critical to drive the kind of change our community needs.

HAWC and Yetter Coleman LLP partnered to submit an amicus brief to SCOTUS, explaining the second amendment right for individuals “to keep and bear Arms” in their home maintains the premise that the home is safe, and it is outsiders who are dangerous. The premise falls apart, however, when home is where one faces abuse, threats, coercion, and life-threatening violence. In those cases, the home itself is not safe, and the core “self-defense” purpose of the Second Amendment does not account for the dangers within the home.

In homes with domestic violence victims, safety means protection from guns. HAWC launched an online petition urging the SCOTUS to stand with survivors and keep guns out of dangerous domestic abusers’ hands. This petition garnered 8,500 signatures with dozens of people reacting by leaving comments and testimonials of their own horrifying experiences.

“It is outrageous survivors in Texas lost this critical life-saving strategy for any period of time, especially knowing guns are the leading cause of domestic violence homicides,” HAWC President and CEO Emilee Whitehurst says. “We must look at the way society is supporting survivors and ensuring those in abusive situations have access to resources and protective measures that could save their lives.”

“My biggest fear at night was him coming to my house and shooting me and my loved ones. After obtaining a protective order, although it was just a piece of paper, it allowed me to feel more at peace. Having the protective order restricts his power to have a gun. This allowed me to feel safe. It allowed me to sleep better. I recently was subpoenaed for a criminal case he has pending and if it wasn’t for the protective order and knowing he doesn’t have access to guns, I would not participate.”

– HAWC Legal Advocacy Client

When firearms are present in abusive households, the risk of homicide increases by a staggering 500%. Every year, HAWC works closely with hundreds of survivors in imminent danger to secure protective orders and ensure those protective orders require gun removal when appropriate. HAWC will continue this effort.

HAWC is expanding services and facilities to meet the growing need in metro Houston while maintaining 24/7 operations and free services. HAWC’s expansion includes a new, four-story Emergency Supportive Housing facility featuring 135 efficiency and one-bedroom units equipped to accommodate 360 survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sex trafficking for up to 12 months. The new facility will provide a more stable living arrangement for survivors and significantly reduce the region’s turn-away rate by tripling its capacity to support survivors in need of real-time safety.

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HAWC responds to HPD interim report & partners with Miss Houston

What is #HAWCFutureForward? Learn more about how HAWC is expanding safety and improving access.

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