NewsLocal NewsYour Voice


Groups working to help Kansas City domestic violence survivors relieved by SCOTUS ruling

rose brooks reax to scotus.jpg
Posted at 7:05 PM, Jun 27, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ruling that prevents abusers with restraining orders from possessing firearms was good news for Kansas City domestic violence shelters like Rose Brooks Center.

“This federal law was only thing we had really in place, and so we were very nervous to see what the decision was going to be, and relieved when they upheld the firearms restrictions,” said Annie Struby, the Blueprint for Safety coordinator for Rose Brooks Center.

rose brooks reacts to scotus ruling.jpg
Annie Struby of Rose Brooks explains impact of SCOTUS ruling on the center's work.

Struby says the Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision on United States v. Rahimi comes with more than one emotion.

“It’s really scary, and it’s hard for me to have to explain that to people that I’m working with who are in danger that really there’s nothing local law enforcement can do as far as if there’s an order of protection in place, or if the person’s been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor," Struby said. "There’s really no state restrictions at all for that person carrying firearms, so it does require a level of coordination with the federal government and federal law enforcement, but we’re so grateful at least that level of protection remained in place by upholding this law.”

Struby is heavily involved in the local and legislative work Rose Brooks has completed, like supporting KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas’ gun ordinance from his first year in office.

She last sat down with KSHB 41 in March to discuss red flag laws as they pertain to domestic violence survivors.

tina and meg speak on abuse.jpg
Two domestic violence survivors we met in March, Tina Johnson and Meg Nelson, speak on red flag laws and the abuse they endured.

This most recent conversation, she says, is a happier occasion.

“We’ve been watching this decision really closely because it has such a great effect on the survivors that we serve,” Struby said. “We know so many of them are affected by gun violence.”

Struby says 60 percent of the calls Rose Brooks receives from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department involve an offender with a firearm.

annie struby answers phone.jpg

She says statistics like this demonstrate the importance of viewing the nation's gun violence public health crisis through a domestic violence lens.

"It does contribute for sure to that public health crisis, and these issues don’t exist in silos," Struby said. "So if we can look at domestic violence in that larger context of a public health issue, especially where if you think about the traumatic events of witnessing domestic violence or domestic violence that involves firearms, I mean, that's huge."

In May, Struby says the Rose Brooks Center reached a record number of calls at 291.

In a year, the center receives anywhere between 11,000 and 12,000 calls.

“We know that traditionally, domestic violence is underreported in the criminal legal system, and so we’re hoping that these higher numbers are not reflecting a higher number of overall incidents, but people trusting the system enough to at least reach out and be put in contact with an advocate,” Struby said.

She says one reason for people under-reporting could be fear of not being taken seriously.

"We work with a lot of people who have a lot of trauma, even if they, maybe their abusive partner just displayed a gun or pointed a gun at them, or kept a gun around," Struby said. "Those are all a part of the coercive behaviors that our victims experience, and that people will tell us later, those are some of the most powerful things that kept us in relationships or kept them from being able to leave an abusive relationship."

But when they are ready, Struby said she and her fellow advocates will continue to do the work necessary to keep the community with or without new legislation.

“The laws would be helpful, but a lot of the work we’re doing in or coordinated community response and trying to pull people together is looking at what we can do even with the restrictions that currently exist,” Struby said. “I don’t think we have yet moved in a direction that would help keep people safer, but I’m always hopeful and optimistic, and will keep working on it in our community and when we go to Jeff city and let them know what we’re hearing and seeing.”