Renée Graham

Oppose domestic violence? Trump’s policies facilitate it

A Detroit officer patroled during a standoff with a gunman who killed three women, including the gunman’s girlfriend.
David Guralnick/Detroit News/AP
A Detroit officer patroled during a standoff with a gunman who killed three women, including the gunman’s girlfriend.

If President Trump opposed domestic violence, he would not support the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would let gun owners bring concealed weapons across state lines. If he supported victims of domestic violence, undocumented immigrants wouldn’t fear seeking legal respite from an abusive partner.

Trump says he’s “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind.” His actions say otherwise.

Much occurred in the week between the resignation of Rob Porter, former White House staff secretary and accused domestic abuser, and Trump’s late, rote condemnation of domestic violence. Trump defended Porter saying, “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.” Later he tweeted, “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”


Not once did Trump mention the two women, Porter’s former wives, who say they suffered his abuse.

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This also happened, as it does every week of every year nationwide — each day, on average, three women are murdered by current or former intimate partners.

Here’s a sampling: In Detroit, a man killed three women, including his girlfriend, before taking his own life during a 14-hour-standoff with police. Three officers were also wounded. A Kentucky man murdered his parents, girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s mother, then turned the gun on himself. Here, a 24-year-old Needham man stabbed his girlfriend to death and later attacked his parents, prosecutors say.

Civilians aren’t the only ones dying. In Westerville, Ohio, two police officers were shot to death while responding to a domestic violence call. Trump offered his “thoughts and prayers” to the officers’ families and colleagues.

That’s commonplace for politicians after mass shootings, including the one at a South Florida high school that left at least 17 people dead and more an a dozen wounded. As meaningless as that oft-repeated phrase has become, victims of domestic violence don’t even rate that.


Trump would have said nothing about the Ohio shootings if not for the officers’ deaths, though most mass shootings — at least four victims, not including the perpetrator — are acts of domestic violence.

Trump’s grudging denunciation of domestic violence is likely the first time he’s ever mentioned that phrase as president. He only did so after being badgered for days about the issue. Moreover, Porter wasn’t the only White House figure implicated; White House speechwriter David Sorensen also resigned after his ex-wife accused him of slamming her into a wall and burning her with a cigarette.

According to the Washington Post, Trump administration hasn’t even nominated a director for the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Furthermore, the president certainly isn’t thinking about domestic violence victims when he calls himself a “true friend and champion” of the NRA and supports concealed carry reciprocity. “The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway,” Trump said in one of his campaign policy documents. “That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do, too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states.”

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act has already sailed through the House. It’s colloquially known as the “guns everywhere” bill, because it would essentially treat a state’s concealed gun permits like its driver’s licenses, which are recognized across the country.


It is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to leave one state for another to escape an abuser. Under reciprocity, a Tennesee gun owner could legally carry a concealed weapon into Massachusetts to stalk a victim. This state’s tighter laws on guns would be rendered useless.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, that bill “would gut existing state laws carefully crafted to prevent domestic abusers and stalkers from carrying hidden, loaded handguns in public.” It would also make it easier “for abusers to carry when they are legally prohibited from having guns at all.”

Twelve states do not even require a permit. Under reciprocity all states would have to allow “permitless” gun owners to carry their firearms.

Still making its way through the Senate, that bill remains, for now, smoke from a not-too-distant fire.

What’s already a pressing danger for victims of domestic violence are Trump’s immigration policies, which right now are steering women away from getting help.

In some of California’s largest cities, domestic violence reports among Latinos have dropped as much as 18 percent since Trump became president. Fearful of being detained by ICE agents, undocumented immigrants are avoiding courthouses and police stations. They’re endangering their lives by staying in abusive households, instead of risking possible deportation. In some cases, abusers threaten to report their victims to immigration officials if they attempt to leave.

Domestic violence is already an underreported crime. Trump’s targeting of undocumented immigrants aids and abets abusers. Meanwhile, his underwhelming rebuke of domestic violence is meaningless because he willfully endorses policies that put women and their families at risk.

It’s no shock that Trump defended Porter and neglected to express any concern about his alleged victims. This administration doesn’t just ignore domestic violence. It facilitates it.

Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham