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Analysis of the strength of legal firearms restrictions for perpetrators of domestic violence and their impact on intimate partner homicide

Abusers’ access to firearms increases the risk that domestic violence (DV) will turn lethal. Prior research found statistically significant but small decreases in intimate partner homicides (IPHs) associated with firearm restrictions connected to domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs), but no effects of laws intended to keep guns from persons convicted of DV offenses. The limited impact of these laws may be due to weaknesses in the laws and their enforcement. Since the last published study, there have been numerous changes to state laws that have strengthened firearm restrictions for abusers, a large increase in records in background check databases to identify prohibited abusers, and a decade more data on IPHs. The goals of this project are to determine whether IPH reductions are greater with 1) broader coverage with firearm restrictions of DV offenders, 2) the provision of specific power to compel firearm removal from prohibited persons, and/or 3) the presence of laws designed to prevent diversion of guns to prohibited persons.  Additionally, we will investigate how local jurisdictions enforce DV firearms restrictions, and key facilitators or barriers to enforcement.

Dr. April Zeoli leads the investigation with collaborators Dr. Daniel Webster and Dr. Shannon Frattaroli at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The project is funded by the Joyce Foundation.

About RCGV

MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence faculty and staff are dedicated to research and outreach initiatives related to ending and preventing gender-based violence and improving the community response to survivors. RCGV faculty are committed to mentoring the next generation of gender-based violence researchers by providing substantial educational and employment opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant and widespread social problem internationally, devastating adults, children, families and societies across the globe. It includes any form of harm that is both a consequence and cause of gender power inequities. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, economic, or sociocultural, and includes but is not limited to sexual abuse, rape, intimate partner abuse, incest, sexual harassment, stalking, femicide, trafficking, gendered hate crimes and dowry abuse. Gender-based violence intersects with race-based, class-based or religiously oppressive forms of abuse, and cross-cuts many other social problems (e.g., poverty, substance abuse, mental and physical health, crime).


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