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Criminal Justice, Culture, Gender, Government, Gun Control, Gun Violence, Health Disparities, Justice, Justice System, Politics, Public Health, Public Policy, Society, Uncategorized, Women's Health, Women's Rights

15 Facts That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Guns And Domestic Violence


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

Guns are regularly used by abusers to terrorize victims. Among abused women living in a home with a gun, more than gun pointedtwo thirds report that their partner has used the gun to threaten them.

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.

Abused women living in a home with a gun are six to eight times more likely than other abused women to be killed.

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

images-6Each 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.


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