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Beyond Bullet Wounds: Guns in the Hands of Domestic Abusers

2021 Report

firearms are the weapons of choice for domestic violence homicides

In America, firearms are the weapons of choice for domestic violence homicides: In fact, female intimate partners are more likely to be murdered with a gun than by all other means combined. The lethal connection between firearms and domestic violence calls for immediate action, especially amid national crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

This updated report, “Beyond the Bullet Wounds: Guns in the Hands of Domestic Abusers,” focuses on the intersections of gun violence and both domestic and intimate partner violence. It provides activists, policymakers, community leaders, and more tangible solutions to address the crises of domestic violence and firearms in America. You can expect to read information and stories — sometimes graphic — concerning domestic violence, including sexual abuse, gun violence, and their effects on different communities.

Women in America are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries. Kate Ranta was shot by her husband in front of her 4-year-old son. She's using her story to inspire change.

Key Facts About Domestic Violence and Firearms

  • The mere presence of a firearm can threaten, intimidate, psychologically abuse, and force compliance on a partner.

  • One-third of women and one-quarter of men are victims of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime.

  • More than 20 people in the U.S. are abused by their intimate partners each minute.

  • Between 2000 and 2007, the FBI’s supplementary homicide data indicated 961 homicides involving family members. Research suggests that virtually all familicides — the homicides of families — are carried out with firearms.

  • In America, 60% of mass shooting events between 2014 and 2019 were either domestic violence attacks or perpetrated by those with a history of domestic violence.

  • Femicide — the homicide of women — is the leading cause of death in the U.S. among Black women aged 14 to 45 years. Black women are also twice as likely to be killed by a spouse, and four times more likely to be killed by a dating partner, than white women.

  • Between 2004 and 2014, nearly 58% of Asian femicide victims over the age of 18 were killed in intimate partner violence homicides.

  • One in three Latinas has experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes. Latina women also experience the highest rate of domestic violence-related femicides of any ethnic or racial group.

  • The murder rate for Indigenous women is ten times the national average.

  • From 2017 to 2020, 72% of transgender American homicide victims lost their lives due to gun violence.

  • Among women who did call the police, one-third said they felt less safe after the subsequent intervention.

  • From March to July of 2020, the FBI completed a staggering 17.3 million background checks — 5.5 million more than the same period in 2019.

  • Despite increased sales and the risk of escalation in homes with guns, there are no federal firearm prohibitions for dating partners convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence or misdemeanor stalking crimes.

Read the Report: "Beyond the Bullet Wounds: Guns in the Hands of Domestic Abusers"

If you or someone you know needs help or a safe place, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or go to thehotline.org to chat without having to say a word. The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE is available to victims and survivors and can refer you to a local crisis center.

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