An Analysis of 2018 Homicide Data ~ September 2020
Intimate partner violence against women is all too common and takes many forms.1
The most serious is homicide
by an intimate partner.2
Guns can easily turn domestic violence into domestic homicide. One federal study on
homicide among intimate partners found that female intimate partners are more likely to be murdered with a
firearm than all other means combined, concluding that “the figures demonstrate the importance of reducing
access to firearms in households affected by IPV [intimate partner violence].”3
Guns are also often used in non-fatal domestic violence. A study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers analyzed
gun use at home and concluded that “hostile gun displays against family members may be more common than gun use in
self-defense, and that hostile gun displays are often acts of domestic violence directed against women.”4
The U.S. Department of Justice has found that women are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes
committed by intimate partners than men, especially when a weapon is involved. Moreover, women are much
more likely to be victimized at home than in any other place.5
A woman must consider the risks of having a gun in her home, whether she is in a domestic violence situation
or not. While two thirds of women who own guns acquired them “primarily for protection
against crime,” the results of a California analysis show that “purchasing a handgun provides no protection
against homicide among women and is associated with an increase in their risk for intimate partner homicide.”6
A 2003 study about the risks of firearms in the home found that females living with a gun in the home were
nearly three times more likely to be murdered than females with no gun in the home.7
Finally, another study
reports, women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three
years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide.8
While this study does not focus solely on domestic violence homicide or guns, it provides a stark reminder
that domestic violence and guns make a deadly combination. According to reports submitted to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI), firearms are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes.9 Instead, they are all
too often used to inflict harm on the very people they were intended to protect.
1 See for example, Shannan Catalano, Ph.D., et al., “Female Victims of Violence,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2009.
2 An intimate partner or intimate acquaintance is defined as a spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend.
3 Leonard J. Paulozzi et al., “Surveillance for Homicide Among Intimate Partners—United States, 1981-1998,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
(MMWR) Surveillance Summaries 50 (October 12, 2001): 1-16.
4 Deborah Azrael and David Hemenway, “‘In the Safety of Your Own Home’: Results from a National Survey on Gun Use at Home,” Social Science &
Medicine 50 (2000): 285-291.
5 Diane Craven, “Sex Differences in Violence Victimization, 1994,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1997).
6 Garen Wintemute et al., “Increased Risk of Intimate Partner Homicide Among California Women Who Purchased Handguns,” Annals of Emergency
Medicine 41, no. 2 (2003): 282.
7 Douglas Wiebe, “Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated with Firearms in the Home: A National Case-Control Study,” Annals of Emergency Medicine
41, no. 6 (2003): 775.
8 K.M. Grassel et al., “Association Between Handgun Purchase and Mortality from Firearm Injury,” Injury Prevention 9 (2003): 50.
9 In 2018, justifiable homicides involving women killing men occurred in: Arizona (1); California (5); Illinois (1); Indiana (5); Kentucky (3); Louisiana (3);
Maryland (1); Michigan (4); Nevada (1); New Mexico (1); New York (1); North Carolina (1); Ohio (1); Oklahoma (1); Oregon (1); South Carolina (5);
Tennessee (1); Texas (5); Virginia (1); and, Wisconsin (1). In 2018, justifiable homicides involving women killing men with a firearm occurred in: Arizona
(1); California (2); Indiana (4); Kentucky (3); Louisiana (3); Michigan (2); Nevada (1); New Mexico (1); North Carolina (1); Oregon (1); South Carolina
(5); Tennessee (1); Texas (4); Virginia (1); and, Wisconsin (1). Of these, handguns were used in: Arizona (1); California (1); Indiana (3); Kentucky (3);
Louisiana (3); Michigan (2); Nevada (1); New Mexico (1); North Carolina (1); Oregon (1); South Carolina (3); Tennessee (1); and, Texas (3).