FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced he signed legislation he says aimed at protecting domestic violence survivors and bolstering California’s gun safety laws.
“The City of Fresno already has the highest per capita calls to law enforcement in the state of California for domestic violence, and we’re not the largest city,” said Nicole Linder, executive director at the Marjaree Mason Center, which provides support and emergency services to survivors.
“We served over 9,600 victims in ,” she said, adding that they saw a 13% increase in cases. These numbers are in addition to a 25% increase the center had already experienced in 2019.
“The Marjaree Mason Center saw increases in the severity of the violence people were experiencing,” explained Linder. “More people have been strangled, more people have been stabbed — shot.”
One of those cases includes an apparent murder-suicide in Clovis Thursday. Investigators believe a woman was shot by an ex-partner.
To tackle the problem, Governor Newsom signed legislation enhancing protections for domestic violence survivors. The legislation aims to ensure aggressors with a domestic violence restraining order turn in their weapons.
Advocates worry it may not be enough.
“The harsh reality is that if somebody wants to kill somebody, they’re gonna do it,” said Linder. “And they’re gonna find a way to do it. No different than a restraining order is meant to protect people, and it does –it has protections built into it. However, it’s still a piece of paper.”
Linder says she encourages victims to make a safety plan and take threats seriously.
“Domestic violence isn’t a woman’s issue. There are victims of all genders, of all types of relationships and of all ages,” she explained. “We have a huge percentage of teens that experience teen dating violence.”
The bills signed by Newsom this week also enable victims to file restraining orders electronically, ensure the timely distribution of grant funding for domestic violence shelters, analyze crime gun data to track trafficked guns, among others. A full list is available on the State of California’s website.
Anyone who feels they need help can call the Marjaree Mason Center’s anonymous 24/7 hotline at (559) 233-HELP.