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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.


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