Deaths from domestic violence incidents involving guns have reached war zone proportions — firearms are a deadly force in abusive situations.
The United States is in the grips of a gun violence crisis that leaves women and their families especially vulnerable. From 2001 to 2012, more than 6,410 women were murdered in the US by an intimate partner using a gun — more than the number of US troops killed in action during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The Lethal Nexus of Firearms and Intimate Partner Violence
Data demonstrates that intimate partner violence combined with access to firearms is an especially deadly mix.
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely the woman will die.
- The firearm homicide rate for women in the US is nearly 16 times higher than that in other high-income countries.
- 47% fewer women are killed with a gun by an intimate partner in states that require background checks for all handgun sales.
Protecting the lives of American women and their families requires lawmakers to take steps to ensure that dangerous domestic abusers and convicted stalkers don’t have easy access to guns. Gaps in federal law that allow abusers and stalkers to purchase and possess guns are a key driver of the staggering levels of lethal violence against women in the United States.
Close the “Boyfriend Gap”
In 2008, 49% of all intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner. Current federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses from accessing firearms, including individuals who are a current or former spouse, parent, parent of a child in common, current or former cohabitant, or a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim. But federal law does not prohibit perpetrators who abused current or former dating partners from accessing guns. This deadly gap leaves a significant number of abusers free to own firearms and makes it all too easy for those guns to be used against their partners
Close the “Stalking Gap”
Stalking is a strong predictor of future violence. One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that 76% of women murdered and 85% who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. Under current federal law, individuals convicted of felony stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing guns. But individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not prohibited from accessing guns. Closing the “stalker gap” in federal law would help ensure that all individuals convicted of stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing firearms.
Who Supports Keeping Firearms Out of the Hands of Abusers?
Americans from across the political spectrum agree that limiting domestic abusers’ and stalkers’ access to guns is essential to saving lives. Polls show that 82% of Americans — including 68% of Republicans — support legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.