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Domestic Disputes and Guns: A Deadly Combination


In July 2014, an armed Texas man shot and killed six members of his ex-wife’s family and wounded one other family member. He was said to be en route to harm even more family members when law enforcement arrested him.The man had a history of domestic violence.

Every day five women are killed with a gun, most often by a current or former intimate partner.

When Men Murder Women, an annual analysis from the Violence Policy Center released on September 8, 2016, found that firearms—especially handguns—were the weapons most commonly used by men to murder women. The same report found that, in cases where investigators could determine if a relationship existed between the offender and the victim, 93 percent of female victims knew the male who murdered them.

Gun violence impacts everyone, but women are especially vulnerable due to inadequate regulations protecting them from domestic abusers and stalkers.

Research documents how gaps in gun laws put women at risk.  In Guns and Violence Against Women – America’s Uniquely Lethal Domestic Abuse Problem, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America explored how weak gun laws allow domestic abusers and stalkers to continue buying and owning firearms.

In Women Under The Gun: How Gun Violence Affects Women and 4 Policy Solutions to Better Protect Them, the Center for American Progress offered four policy recommendations that can reduce domestic abusers' access to firearms:

  1. Bar all convicted abusers, stalkers and people subject to related restraining orders from possessing guns.
  2. Provide all records of prohibited abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
  3. Require a background check for all gun sales.
  4. Ensure that abusers surrender any firearms they own once they become prohibited.

Some states, VPC noted in its When Men Murder Women analysis, have already taken steps to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. But, more must be done to keep women safe.

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