We already know that the deadly combination of guns and domestic violence has a devastating effect on too many American families—firearms are the most common, and by far the most lethal, weapons used by abusers who kill their partners. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we hope Americans gain a deeper understanding of the pernicious danger domestic abusers pose to the safety of our communities—especially when guns are involved.
- Domestic violence episodes involving guns are 12 times more likely to result in death than other weapons or bodily force.
- Domestic abuse situations are five times more likely to be fatal if the abuser has access to a gun.
- Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other high-income countries.
And yet, in spite of these horrifying statistics, federal law still contains deadly loopholes that allow domestic abusers to buy and possess firearms—especially if they already own them. We need to call upon our lawmakers to close these deadly gaps, enact background checks on every gun transfer, and report all records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Despite Congressional inaction on this issue, 20 states have enacted new laws to protect victims of domestic violence from gunfire since 2013. These powerful pieces of legislation keep people convicted of domestic violence from accessing guns and make it easier for law enforcement to remove guns from abusers who own them. Laws like this are important because they directly address gaps in current policy regarding stalkers and dating partners, help disarm violent spouses, and help background check systems identify convicted abusers.
The momentum for better domestic violence laws shows no signs of slowing down—even states with strong gun cultures, like Tennessee and Louisiana, which both score an F on our Gun Law State Scorecard, have recently enacted laws barring domestic abusers from possessing firearms. These lifesaving smart gun laws help keep families—particularly women, who are disproportionately affected by this issue—safe from domestic violence involving guns.
For more information on the laws states can pass to help protect victims of domestic abuse, see our Commonsense Solutions Toolkit: State Laws to Address Gun Violence Against Women.
For more information about existing domestic violence gun laws, visit our policy page.