Disarm All Domestic Abusers

A girl sits among lighted candles during the traditional commemorative ceremony held for domestic violence victims at Chicago's North Avenue Beach, October 2017.

Download the PDF here.

Guns in the hands of domestic abusers pose a significant risk to women.

  • From 2004 to 2015, 6,313 women were murdered by an intimate partner using a gun.1
  • The presence of a gun in a household that has experienced domestic violence increases the risk that a woman will be murdered by 500 percent.2
  • Abusers also frequently use guns as tools of intimidation, even without pulling the trigger. A recent study found that nearly 4.5 million women in the United States have been threatened with a gun by an abuser.3

While federal law prohibits some domestic abusers from buying and possessing guns, there are significant gaps in the law that leave victims of abuse vulnerable to lethal violence.4

The following abusers remain free to buy and possess guns under federal law:

  • Individuals convicted of domestic abuse or subject to a restraining order for abusing a dating partner—as opposed to a current spouse, former spouse, co-parent of a child in common, or current or former live-in intimate partner
    • Intimate partner violence increasingly occurs in the context of dating, as opposed to in marital relationships. In 2015, 51 percent of intimate partner homicides of women were committed by a dating partner rather than a spouse.5
  • Individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking against an intimate partner
    • Stalking is a frequent element of domestic abuse: According to data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly 62 percent of female stalking victims were stalked by a current or former intimate partner, while 26 percent were stalked by an acquaintance and 15 percent by a stranger.6
  • Individuals subject to a temporary restraining order
    • The period immediately following the issuance of a temporary restraining order is often one of the most dangerous times for women in abusive relationships.7

Endnotes

  1. CAP analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplemental Homicide Data (U.S. Department of Justice, 2004–2015).
  2. J.C. Campbell and others, “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study,” American Journal of Public Health 93 (7) (2003): 1089–97.
  3. Maura Ewing, “An Estimated 4.5 Million Women Have Been Bullied with Guns by Abusive Partners,” The Trace, October 5, 2016, available at https://www.thetrace.org/2016/10/nonfatal-gun-use-domestic-violence/.
  4. Winnie Stachelberg and others, “Preventing Domestic Abusers and Stalkers from Accessing Guns” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2013), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/courts/reports/2013/05/09/60705/preventing-domestic-abusers-and-stalkers-from-accessing-guns/.
  5. CAP analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplemental Homicide Data (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).
  6. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010-2012 State Report” (Washington: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017), available at https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf. Another 7 percent of stalking victims were stalked by a family member and 2 percent by an authority figure.
  7. J.C. Campbell and others, “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study”; Battered Women’s Justice Project, “Enforcing Domestic Violence Firearm Prohibitions Technical Assistant Project Foundations,” available at http://www.bwjp.org/our-work/projects/firearms-project/firearms-project-updates.html (last accessed March 2018).