Statistics on Domestic Violence & Firearms

Posted on January 1, 2012

Guns increase the probability of death in incidents of domestic violence.1

Firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.2

Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force.3

Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.4

A recent survey of female domestic violence shelter residents in California found that more than one third (36.7%) reported having been threatened or harmed with a firearm.5 In nearly two thirds (64.5%) of the households that contained a firearm, the intimate partner had used the firearm against the victim, usually threatening to shoot or kill the victim.6

Laws that prohibit the purchase of a firearm by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order are associated with a reduction in the number of intimate partner homicides.7

Between 1990 and 2005, individuals killed by current dating partners made up almost half of all spouse and current dating partner homicides.8

A study of applicants for domestic violence restraining orders in Los Angeles found that the most common relationship between the victim and abuser was a dating relationship, and applications for protective orders were more likely to mention firearms when the parties had not lived together and were not married.9

For additional information about domestic violence and firearms, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see the Law Center’s Domestic Violence and Firearms Policy Summary.

  1. Susan B. Sorenson, Firearm Use in Intimate Partner Violence: A Brief Overview, in 30 Evaluation Review, A Journal of Applied Social Research, Special Issue: Intimate Partner Violence and Firearms, 229, 232-33 (Susan B. Sorenson ed., 2006). []
  2. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide (July 2007), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm. []
  3. Linda E. Saltzman, et al., Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults, 267 JAMA, 3043-3047 (1992). []
  4. Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study, 93 Am. J. Pub. Health 1089, 1092 (July 2003). []
  5. Susan B. Sorenson et al., Weapons in the Lives of Battered Women, 94 Am. J. Pub. Health 1412, 1413 (2004). []
  6. Id. at 1414. []
  7. Elizabeth R. Vigdor et al., Do Laws Restricting Access to Firearms by Domestic Violence Offenders Prevent Intimate Partner Homicide?, 30 Evaluation Rev. 313, 332 (June 2006). []
  8. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide (July 2007), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm. []
  9. Katherine A. Vittes et al., Are Temporary Restraining Orders More Likely to be Issued When Application Mention Firearms?, 30 Evaluation Rev. 266, 271, 275 (2006). []