Study: Tougher Gun Laws Help Prevent Domestic Violence Deaths

Study: Tougher Gun Laws Help Prevent Domestic Violence Deaths

More stringent gun laws might spur a decline in domestic violence murders, new research suggests.

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Thirteen states and federal law prohibit people convicted of domestic violence from buying guns. But the study found that states that extended this ban to people convicted of any violent crime had 23 percent fewer domestic violence murders.

The researchers also found that larger reductions in these deaths were seen when gun restriction laws included dating partners in addition to spouses or ex-spouses, and a requirement that abusers turn in their guns.

"The evidence from this study and previous research highly suggests that firearm restrictions work to reduce intimate partner homicides, and that laws need to be comprehensive when we think about populations most at risk for committing intimate partner violence," said study author April Zeoli. She is an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University.

In the study, the researchers analyzed 34 years of data (1980 to 2013) from 45 states. The 29 states with laws restricting guns in domestic violence cases when a restraining order had been issued had 9 percent fewer intimate partner murders, a finding similar to those in previous studies.

Restraining orders for dating partners that include gun restrictions were present in 22 states and linked with a 10 percent decrease in romantic partner murders and a 14 percent reduction in partner homicides committed with guns.

Traditional domestic violence restraining order laws cover spouses, ex-spouses, couples who live together or have lived together, and couples who have children together. But nearly half of intimate partner murders are committed by dating partners who often aren't covered by these categories, the study authors explained.

The researchers also found that gun restrictions that cover emergency restraining orders in domestic violence cases were associated with a 12 percent reduction in intimate partner murders, and that laws that require a permit from a law enforcement agency to buy a gun (10 states) were linked to an 11 percent reduction in intimate partner murders.

Laws requiring people with domestic violence restraining orders to turn in their guns were associated with a 22 percent reduction in gun-related intimate partner murders, according to the study.

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"Expanding restrictions from those who have been convicted of domestic violence to those who have been convicted of any violent misdemeanor, and including dating partners in domestic violence firearm laws would likely result in even greater reductions," Zeoli said in a university news release.

The findings were published Nov. 29 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on intimate partner violence.


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