Guns Make Domestic Violence Lethal; Reducing Firearm Access Saves Lives

Lax State Laws Allow Domestic Abusers to Have Guns

Washington, D.C. (October 17, 2016)—Research shows that easy access to guns turns domestic violence fatal.   More than half – 55 percent – of American women killed with a gun are killed by an intimate partner or family member.  Women in abusive relationships are 500 percent more likely to be killed when their abusers have access to guns.  Evidence also shows that states that restrict abusers’ firearms access can reduce the risk of domestic homicide by as much as 25 percent.

The federal government and many states prohibit those under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns. Despite the prohibition, some states lack the tools necessary to actually remove guns from prohibited abusers.  Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia explicitly “authorize”  the removal of firearms from people subject to various types of domestic violence restraining orders, but only 16 of those states require removal of firearms.

“You don’t have to be an academic to know that domestic violence and firearms create deadly situations,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.  “Prohibiting abusers from having guns is not enough.  We must insure that guns are actually removed from those who become prohibited. If state lawmakers are sincere about efforts to reduce domestic homicide, removing guns from known abusers should be an easy first step.”

“We take licenses away from convicted drunk drivers because they are a danger to society, so why do we allow domestic abusers to have easy access to guns?” added Horwitz.

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence used evidence-based research to develop policy recommendations for states.

Recommendations include enacting explicit state laws that will require removal of guns from domestic abusers, extending gun prohibitions to the temporary restraining order process, incorporating dating partners into the definition of domestic abuse, and expanding the firearm prohibition to include people convicted of any violent misdemeanor crime.

For more state policy recommendations, read Firearm Removal and Retrieval in Cases of Domestic Violence.  

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