Violence against women looks very different than violence against men. Whether in the context of sexual assault on college campuses or in the military, violence by an intimate partner, or other types of violent victimization, women’s experiences of violence in this country are unique from those of men.
One key difference in the violence committed against women in the United States is who commits it: Women are much more likely to be victimized by people they know, while men are more likely to be victims of violent crime at the hands of strangers. Between 2003 and 2012, 65 percent of female violent crime victims were targeted by someone they knew; only 34 percent of male violent crime victims knew their attackers. Intimate partners make up the majority of known assailants: During the same time period, 34 percent of all women murdered were killed by a male intimate partner, compared to the only 2.5 percent of male murder victims killed by a female intimate partner.
A staggering portion of violence against women is fatal, and a key driver of these homicides is access to guns. While the political debate over gun violence and gun control has never been more divisive, the evidence clearly and conclusively shows that smarter gun laws would make the country a safer place for women — particularly those in abusive relationships. If you’re not convinced, consider these fifteen facts about guns in the context of violence against women:
Guns Pose A Unique Danger To Women
Women in the U.S. are 11 times as likely to be murdered with a gun than are women in other high-income countries.
From 2001 through 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in the United States by an intimate partner using a gun—more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
Females killed by male partners make up 70 percent of all victims killed by an intimate partner.
Sixteen times as many women are murdered by a male they knew than are killed by male strangers.
Of females killed with a firearm, about two-thirds are killed by a current or former intimate partner.
Guns kill more female victims of intimate partner violence than all other weapons combined.
Guns Are Far More Likely To Be Used Against Victims Than To Be Used In Self-Defense
For every one time a woman uses a gun in self-defense, 83 women are murdered by an intimate partner with a firearm.
Among women who have used a weapon successfully to defend themselves, only 2 percent used a gun.
The presence of a firearm quickly escalates violence against women, increasing the chance of fatality by 500 percent.
A gun in the home is more than 10 times more likely to be used by an abuser to threaten, intimidate, or injure/kill a victim than it is to be used by a victim in self-defense.
Better Gun Control Policies Would Make A Difference
Each year, an average of at least 1,000 people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions are able to purchase guns without being identified by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The actual number is likely much higher.
A review of conviction records in 20 states showed that there are at least 11,986 individuals across the country who have been convicted of misdemeanor-level stalking but are still permitted to possess guns under federal law. It is likely that there are tens of thousands of additional convicted stalkers who are able to buy guns.
In states that have closed the loophole by requiring a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.
Limiting abusers and stalkers’ access to firearms is critical to reduce the number of women murdered in this country every year. This idea is not new: Congress first acted 20 years ago to strengthen our gun laws to prevent some domestic abusers from buying guns. But we are still a long way from having a comprehensive system of laws in place at both the federal and state levels that protect women—and children and men—from fatal violence in the context of intimate and domestic relationships.
In a recent report, the Center for American Progress highlighted four policies that states and the federal government should enact to reduce dangerous abusers’ access to guns and prevent murders of women:
- Bar all convicted abusers, stalkers, and people subject to related restraining orders from possessing guns.
- Provide all records of prohibited abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.
- Require a background check for all gun sales.
- Ensure that abusers surrender any firearms they own once they become prohibited.
Some states have already adopted some of these policies, and in the past 12 months, there has been a growing movement across the country to enact laws closing some gaps related to domestic abusers’ gun access in several states, including Wisconsin, Washington, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Minnesota.
Enacting safer gun laws would not only protect women, but it would also reduce the devastating impact of gun violence on our society. Shooters have often made children, police officers, and their broader communities additional targets of what begins as an intimate partner shooting. In fact, one study found that more than half of the mass shootings in recent years have started with or involved the shooting of an intimate partner or a family member. Enacting a comprehensive set of laws and enforcement strategies to disarm domestic abusers and stalkers will reduce the number of women who are murdered by abusers with guns—and it will make all Americans safer.
- How America’s Lax Gun Laws Let Domestic Abusers Buy Guns(publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Gabby Giffords Speaks Out On Gun Violence Against Women (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- The Gun Violence Threat No One Is Talking About – And Why Women Should Be Concerned (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Mass Shootings, Misogyny, And The Aggrieved Entitlement Of White Males(publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- What The Santa Barbara Shooting Shows Us About The Culture Of Violence Against Women In The U.S. (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Moving Forward: Outlining A Public Health Approach To Gun Violence Prevention (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Twenty Five Shocking Facts About Violence Against Women(publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Weapons Increase Risk Of Repeat Abuse For Victims Of Domestic Violence (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Keeping Guns Out Of The Hands Of Convicted Abusers (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Gaps In The Law: Why Some States Still Can’t Keep Guns From People With A History Of Violence (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Doctors Group Calls Gun Violence A ‘Public Health Threat’ Requiring ‘Immediate Attention’: Congress, Are You Listening?(publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Mythbusters, Gun Control Edition: Debunking Five Of The Gun Lobby’s Most Egregious Myths About Guns (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- What Should We Do If A Convicted Domestic Abuser Is Amassing An Arsenal? Let’s Wait Until Something Happens, Say Police (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Republican Senate Hopeful Thinks Justice System Is “Stacked Against” Domestic Abusers. One More Thing: He Is A Convicted Domestic Abuser. (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Violence Against Women: A Multi-Level Analysis, Part 2: Defining A Public Health Approach To Violence Prevention (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects Challenge To Domestic Abuser Gun Law (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- New Report Highlights Devastating Impact Of Domestic Violence(publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Survivors Of Domestic Violence Now Have Better Access To Health Insurance Through Affordable Care Act (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Jimmy Carter: Violence Against Women Is The Most Pervasive Human Rights Violation In The World (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)
- Deadly Duo: How Anti-Choice Laws Help Abusers Continue The Cycle Of Violence Against Women (publichealthwatch.wordpress.com)